Rev. John Heckman, et al . , eds.
Voice of the Prairie: A Brief History!
of Polo, Illinois, 1857-1957
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2012 with f u riding ffofr
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Voice of the Prairie
"The people of Polo heard the Voice of the Prairie and gave heed to
its call. They believed. They came, they saw, they conquered. They plowed,
they sowed, they gathered. They sang, they prayed, they worshiped. They
loved, they married, they built. They sorrowed, they endured and some-
times suffered. They laughed, they prospered, they are happy. To them,
who have lived here in this hundred years, we dedicate these pages."
1857 - 1957
Rev. John Heckman
Mrs. Catherine Phalen
Mrs. Lester Weaver
We, the editors, have done our utmost to compile the history of our
town correctly. We hereby wish to apologize for any discrepancies you
might find. We also wish to thank our many friends without whose assis-
tance this book would not have been possible:
Mrs. Mary Hackett
Mrs. Walter Maxey
Mrs. Lina Donaldson
Mr. Everett Webster
Mrs. Pauline Wetzel
Mr. Russell Poole
Mr. Evan Reck
Mrs. Frank Hammer
Miss Ina Reed
Mrs. Helen Bentley
Miss Mary Ann Hackett
Mrs. Ray Hammer
Mrs. Neva Baker
Mrs. Miles Rogers
Mrs. Camilla Jones
Mr. Harry Folk
Mrs. A. O. Swanson
Mrs. August Deuth
Mrs. M. E. Schryver, Sr.
Judge Leon Zick
Mrs. Sam Good
Centennial Year 1957
Voice of the Prairie
This stone marks the grave of William Durley, killed by Indians May 19,
1832. It is located about two miles north west of Polo on the old Charles
Noble farm, just inside a fenced field at the left side of the gravel road.
One of the factors which contributed largely to the opening up of
Rock River Valley was the discovery and working of the lead mines at
Galena. Many of the pioneers from the eastern states traveling to Ga-
lena passed through this beautiful valley. Many of these travelers either
abandoned their original destination, in order to locate in what later be-
came Ogle County, or returned at a later date to find homes here.
Some of the early Galena trails through this part of the country
crossed Rock River at Ogee's Ferry. Ogee later sold his ferry to John
Voice of the Prairie Page 3
Dixon. The Kellogg Trail, marked in 1825, passed through this area be-
tween where Polo and Mt. Morris are now located. The Boles Trail,
marked in 1826 went about a mile east of where Polo is now located. In
1829 John Ankeny marked a trail which went through what later became
Buffalo Grove. Ankeny's Trail nearly corresponded to the Galena Road
which Levi Warner surveyed in 1833.
One of the distinguishing features of "the grove," which the early
settlers called "Buffalo Grove," was its beautiful trees. The Indians called
this grove "Nanusha" which means Buffalo. These woods were formerly
a favorite haunt for buffalo. The first white settlers found immense quan-
tities of buffalo bones in this locality. They, however, did not see buffalo.
What happened to all these buffalo? The winter of 1778 is known in
our early history, as the "winter of the deep snow." In the Mississippi
Valley it snowed heavily, then the weather became warm and a crust
formed over the snow. It was too hard for the buffalo to break through
to get bark and grass for food. During that winter many of the buffalo
Isaac Chambers can, without doubt, be considered the first settler
in what today is Ogle County. In the spring of 1830 he built a cabin on
the south side of the creek near the Galena Trail. It was his intention to
keep a tavern, or inn, for the travelers on their way to Galena.
John Ankeny had passed through Buffalo Grove the previous year
on his way to Galena. Ankeny marked some trees to indicate that that
area was his claim. When Ankeny returned in the spring of 1830 with
his family he found that Isaac Chambers had built a log cabin to be used
as a tavern on the site he had staked out. Some controversy ensued be-
tween these two men in which Chambers was successful. So Ankeny
chose land on the north side of the creek about a half mile west from
where Chambers had built his tavern. Here Ankeny built a rival tavern.
In the spring of 1831, Oliver W. Kellogg and Samuel Reed, with their
families, arrived at Buffalo Grove. Mr. Kellogg purchased the claim and
improvements of Isaac Chambers.
Samuel Reed came to this area with the purpose of farming. The
first spring he was here he broke and planted fourteen acres of corn.
In 1832, he sowed some wheat which was, without doubt, the first wheat
sowed in what today is Ogle County. This area can rightfully claim the
first farm in the country. The Reed claim is a part of the farm now own-
ed by Sam Gilbert.
In the spring of 1832 the Black Hawk War began. A dispatch was sent
to the settlers telling them of the battle at Stillman's Run, where the In-
dians were victorious. They were ordered to go at once to the military
headquarters near Dixon's ferry.
These settlers, so it is said, then went to Peoria where they remained
until September. Then they returned to their homes in Buffalo Grove.
The day after these settlers left for the military headquarters a group
of men returned to Buffalo Grove to look after some stock that had been
left behind. These men found the body of William Durley in the road at
the edge of the woods.
William Durley, a miner, with two other men, was taking a dispatch
from Galena to the army which was located on Rock River. Durley was
killed by Indians, but his two companions escaped. The men who found
Durley buried him where he had fallen when he was attacked. The Polo
Historical Society had a marker placed where Durley was buried. This
is about a mile west of Polo on the Polo-Eagle Point road.
Page 4 Voice of the Prairie
In 1834, Colonel John D. Stevenson arrived from Louisiana and set-
tled near Mr. Kellogg. He brought a small stock of goods with him and
kept store in his log cabin, thus becoming the first merchant in this ter-
In March 1835, Oliver W. Kellogg and Hugh Stevenson had a town
platted which they called St. Marion, although the Post Office, establish-
ed in 1835, was called Buffalo Grove. Buffalo Grove Post Office was es-
tablished before the one at Rockford. In 1839, the name of the village was
changed to Buffalo Grove. One of the early drivers for the mail route
was' Isaiah Rucker, who later settled on a farm west of Polo. Some of his
descendants are living here today.
In 1836, Oliver W. Kellogg with George D. H. Wilcoxen, built the first
sawmill in what is now Ogle County. This mill was located on Buffalo
Creek near the center of the woods. Slight traces of the old dam and race
can still be seen near the Bluffs west of Polo.
In 1837, Zenas Aplington, a young man of 22, came to Buffalo Grove.
At first he worked at the sawmill. During the next 13 years he worked
as a blacksmith, carpenter, sawyer, and farmer.
In 1843, Zenas Aplington and Timothy Perkins caused to be circulated
a petition to sell Section 16 - the section set aside for schools by the Ordi-
nance of 1787. When this section was sold, Zenas Aplington bought a por-
tion of it. About 1849 or 1850 he moved a frame house from Buffalo Grove
to his farm, about a mile east of the village, which is now the town of
From 1830 to 1840, the migration to Buffalo Grove was slow, but grad-
ually increased year by year. In 1835, There were 15 families living in the
vicinity of Buffalo Grove. In 1852, when construction on the Illinois Cen-
tral Railroad was started, nearly 1000 people lived in this village.
At this time there were six stores. In 1834, Colonel Stevenson "kept
store" in his log cabin. In 1836, he built a new frame building which he
used as a store and a home. Horatio Wales, with Hunn and Chandler, op-
ened the second store in 1836, followed by Elijah and Theodore Winn, in
1839; L. N. and C. R. Barber, 1843; Job Arnold, 1844; and Helm and Mc-
Clure in 1849.
In 1852, a steam sawmill was built by George D. Read. This mill fur-
nished ties for the Illinois Central Railroad, which was being constructed.
A distillery was operated in the village until 1856. Junis Leal had a glove
factory there until after the Civil War. A large brick yard was located
where the sewage disposal plant is now located.
In 1847, Dr. William W. Burns met L. N. Barber of Buffalo Grove at
Galena. Mr. Barber prevailed upon Dr. Burns to visit Buffalo Grove and
later to practice his profession there. Dr. Burns lived in Buffalo Grove
and had an office there until he moved to Polo. Dr. Burns built the huge
red brick house in the 100 block of N. Barber St., and lived there until
his death. Since the death of the last of his family, this house has not
been occupied although the beds are still made and the clothes remain in
After the Illinois Central Railroad was built, the site for the new town
of Polo was surveyed near the new railroad. Many of the people of Buf-
falo Grove moved their homes and businesses into the new town. What
was left of this once prosperous pioneer village became known as "Old
Town." The people who lived in Buffalo Grove now are but a memory
shadowed by the passing of time.
Voice of the Prairie
Zenas Aplington, Our Founder
That Zenas Aplington, founder of Polo, is the all-time No. 1 Citizen
of this city is the verdict of history at the close of the first one hundred
years, 1857-1957. In decade after decade the stature of this man has stood
the test of time. Citizen, leader, promoter of civic progress, blacksmith,
carpenter, sawyer, farmer, railroad contractor, merchant, real estate deal-
er, legislator and soldier, his position as Polo's outstanding citizen of the
first century reasonably cannot be assailed.
When Zenas Aplington came to Buffalo Grove at the age of 22 - he
was born in Broome County, New York, Dec. 24, 1815 - his first job was
in the sawmill operated by Oliver W. Kellogg. That was in 1837.
Perhaps young Aplington had been dreaming of a virgin prairie land
new to the plow and to people; in western Ogle county he had found it. In-
dustry must have been his strategy for in the short space of 20 years he
had advanced from working in a sawmill to a leader in his community —
a leader in the commercial field, in education and in religion. In his 21st
year in Buffalo Grove he was elected to the state senate.
The early history of Polo, therefore, is virtually a history of Zenas
Aplington. The talk of a railroad had advanced until it was now a certain-
ty but it bode ill for Buffalo Grove. The right-of-way, due to opposition in
Buffalo Grove, was bearing to the east of town and Zenas Aplington, a
Page 6 Voice of the Prairie
practical dreamer and visionary who made his dreams a reality, was not
one to throw up a road block to progress. He welcomed it.
It was through his welcome to the Illinois Central that he was given
the honor of naming the town which he did, after Marco Polo, the Venetian
About 1849 Aplington moved one of his Buffalo Grove houses which
had been erected in 1836, to a site about a mile northeast of the town. There
he planted some locust trees and when he with a few others had caused
the town of Polo to be laid out into city blocks, his house stood "about in
the center" of Lot 1 Block 21, which is the southwest corner of the North
Franklin-Locust intersection. This house is now owned and occupied by
Thus it was Aplington's honor to have the City built upon the land of
which he was a principal owner; his was the first home in the city; his
was the first store; it was his honor to build the first brick building which
was on the corner now occupied by the Gamble Store, the northeast cor-
ner of Mason-Franklin Streets.
But honors did not come to this man solely in the field of early day
business. When the school land was sold at public auction Mr. Aplington
was made the first treasurer of Buffalo township. He was also the first
township supervisor. When Polo was organized as a governmental unit on
April 16, 1857, he was elected as president of the board of trustees.
Zenas Aplington, it is clearly apparent from the records, was not only
the father of Polo, he was also the town's godfather. He gave money to-
ward the building of every church in the town: he offered the town land
upon which to plan a park; in October of 1859 he conceived the idea and
led a movement to establish a township high school in the town. While
these efforts were not successful they did pave the way for later success,
for the town's first high school came in 1868.
Mentioned here are only the highlights of his career, first as a boy
coming to a pioneer community then progressing through hard work and
vision to the highest honors his neighbors could pay him. Zenas Apling-
ton's firm belief in freedom for all, his service in the state legislature, and
his all around success led him into activity that was to end his life. If he
was anything, Zenas Aplington was a patriot.
When Fort Sumter was fired upon Zenas Aplington was one of the
first pillars upon which Governor Yates built his fortress of military
strength that was to be felt so much in the winning of the Civil War. As
a member of the senate he was an earnest supporter of the government's
In 1861 he assisted in the organization of the 7th Illinois Cavalry Regi-
ment in which he was commissioned a major. He met his death at the Bat-
tle of Corinth in the state of Mississippi.
Upon the orders of General Paine, Major Aplington led an attack upon
a strong force of confederates who were in retreat but which had formed
a line in a large tract of timber. The 7th Illinois Cavalry advanced towards
the woods with Major Aplington 20 paces ahead of his men. That was May
9, 1862. He fell with a bullet through his brain. He was in the fifth month
of his 48th year. Thus came to the end of the trail the man who had found-
ed our lovely city of Polo . . . who fought and gave his life for principles
in which he believed.
Many people living in Polo in this Centennial Year of 1957 knew men
who were contemporaries of Zenas Aplington. These contemporaries were
not men given to coloring their speech or writing to fit the occasion for
they were men of deep convictions also.
Voice of the Prairie Page 7
Judge J. D. Campbell, in describing the news of Major Aplington's
death in the Battle of Corinth said, "it flew from place to place with the
rapidity of thought. The people suddenly came together in groups and
commented upon the sad loss the people had sustained. Deep sorrow was
visible in every eye and audible upon every tongue."
The late John W. Clinton, a worthy successor to Zenas Aplington in
the history of Polo from 1857 to 1901 said, in presenting an Aplington por-
trait to the library in 1905: "I can on my own part endorse all that has been
said of this noble man. He was a studious and patriotic citizen and his
opinions on public questions were thought out something after the fashion
In accepting this portrait, the late Dr. J. H. More (father of Mrs. Pauline
Wetzel) said that Major Aplington was "one of those broadminded men
who looks beyond family and selfish interests and sees the whole commun-
ity. He is worthy of all honor that can be given him. I hope some artist will
paint his portrait in living colors and I believe the day will come when
the likeness of this man will be chiseled in marble by the citizens of Polo.
It is well to cherish the memory of the great and the good."
We think it is right and proper, therefore, for us of the closing days
of the first 100 years to dedicate proudly these few lines in memory of
the man who rightfully deserves the title: Major Zenas Aplington, First
Citizen of the First Century.
The two store buildings east of the Gamble Store were built soon after
the fire of 1865. The west one of these was occupied many years by the
Wilson Allen firm. Peter Bracken and Charles Winders, clerks in the
Strickler Kridler Store, purchased it and the daughter of Winders, Mrs.
Annabel Winders Kopp, continues the clothing business. The Bacon Store
was once occupied by a grocery store. The next building east was a gen-
eral merchandise and grocery store for many years. The names Newcomer,
Dan and Solomon Brand, D. L. Miller, Samuel Hammer and Phillip Gray-
bill are connected with this store. The building now occupied by Raley's
Ben Franklin Store, was built in the late 1860's and was formerly a meat
Perhaps the most spectacular event in the life of Polo occurred in
1917 when Bryant H. Barber, banker and wealthy pioneer resident of Polo,
alledgedly took his own life by jumping from the bridge at Grand Detour
into Rock River about 5 o'clock on November 16. The body was never re-
covered and no reason for the act was ever found. After driving from Polo
in his big Stevens Duryea roadster, driven by his chauffeur, Otto Olsen,
Mr. Barber told the chauffeur to stop and he would walk across the bridge
and the chauffeur could turn around and come back and meet him. As he
had often done this the chauffeur did not think it odd. It was later believed
that this was premeditated and that perhaps Mr. Barber had this act in
mind on previous times. According to the press, Otto Olsen and another
witness both saw Mr. Barber struggling in the water but as they could not
swim they did not go in the water after him. Barber's great wealth was in-
vested in land, about 500 acres near Polo and eight or nine thousand acres
in Minnesota. His land holdings would have been worth about half a mil-
lion. He also owned a block of stock in the Railway Exchange building in
Chicago. Barber was never married and lived at Polo with his aged mother
to whom his fortune was left.
Voice of the Prairie
V FIRST TOWN HALL
Built in 1855, by James Mosher. One block north of Mason on Division
street. The old hall was used as a school, a church, and for social and civic
functions in the earlier years of the history of Polo. Dr. Louise Keator,
granddaughter of James Mosher, lives in the building at the present time.
City of Polo
(City Council or Board of Trustees)
We shall attempt to give you some of the "highlights" of the "early
days" of the City Council, or, as they were then termed, the Board of Trus-
tees. In any such effort of this nature, errors of dates and names are bound
to appear, and we do want to point out that you will come upon many
things, such as misspellings or phrasings, not in keeping with writing of
today. However, we have tried to record for you, the reader, the style of
spelling and writing that the original Clerks used one-hundred (100) years
We shall attempt to review historical facts that have some bearing on
forming a part of that early City Government of Polo.
From the date of November 23, 1853, when the right-of-way for the
Illinois Central Railroad was acquired here, the population of the Buffalo
Grove area were moving into this area, some of the people even moving
their homes with them. There were many things that prevented the rail-
road from going through the Buffalo Grove area. In Freeport the politi-
cians were busy influencing the railroad to come to Freeport, in its route
from Cairo to Galena, instead of going to Savanna and thence to Galena as
was originally planned. Then there was the fact that some Buffalo Grove
Voice of the Prairie Page 9
settlers would not grant right-a-way to the railroad, or wanted exorbitant
prices for their land, and Zenas Aplington, on a farm north of Polo, offer-
ed his land to the railroad cheap. For one reason or another, the road did
pass through this area instead of following the Stage Coach, Trail through
Buffalo Grove. At this time the population of Buffalo Grove was about
1,000. In addition to the Buffalo Grove people moving to Polo, others set-
tled here also, to the extent that we had a population of about 2,500 in the
year of 1856.
Polo's population were living in about 500 homes and going to three
meeting places, to 25 stores, three hotels, three saws mills, and two flour
mills! With activity of the kind just mentioned one would agree on the
need of a proper town government. So it was that local citizens acquired
the State of Illinois approval of the paper of incorporation of the town of
Polo, on February 16, 1857.
Now that Polo had the approved papers of incorporation from the
State of Illinois, they were to hold an election, first to adopt the Incorpo-
ration, and second, to elect a Board of Trustees to carry on this new gov-
On April 16, 1857 this election was held in the basement of the Zenas
Aplington & Co. store building. John B. Moore, George Swingley, and R. H.
Vansanford were sworn in as judges for this election according to law.
The results of that election indicated considerable feeling on the matter
for there were 84 votes for adoption of the papers of Incorporation for the
City of Polo, and 43 votes against. "This being a majority of all the votes
cast - it was declared adopted!" On the same day and in the same place the
election of officers of the new government were elected. "Zenas Apling-
ton, J. B. Moore, Cornelius Woodruff, I. M. Reed, James Brand, S. E. Treat,
and H. N. Murray - each having a plurality of the votes cast were duly
elected Trustees seven (7) in number, of the Town of Polo."
At this point Polo had a Board of Trustees - seven in all - selected by
the voters out of a group of twenty-eight (28) candidates.
There still remained the finishing touches to be put to this new city
government, so on April 18th, 1857, the following Oath was taken by the
first president of board (equivalent of Mayor)
"I , having been elected trustee of the Village of
Polo, do solemnly swear that I will support the constitution of the United
States and of this State, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of
said office of trustee, and I further swear that I have not fought a duel,
present or accepted a challenge to fight a duel the probable issue of which
might have been the death of either party, nor have been a second to eith-
er party, or in any manner aided, or assisted, in such duel, or been know-
ingly the bearer of such challange or acceptance since the adoption of the
constitution, and that I will not be so ingaged or concerned directly or in-
directly in or about any such duel during my continuance in office, so Help
That first meeting of the Board on April 18, 1857, was the scene of the
election within the Board to determine who would be president. The re-
sults of that election were as follows:
President - Zenas Aplington
Clerk - John B. Moore
Appointed by the Board:
Constable - John Wood
Street Commissioner - Philo Newman
Treasurer - Jonas M. Reed
Page 10 Voice of the Prairie
FIRST "ORDNANCE" SHOWS
The first "ordnance" of the City of Polo was papered the same day,
and it provided - "That here-after all shows and entertainments whatever,
shall previous to exhibiting within the corporate limits of said Town pay
to the Treasurer of said Board of Trustees the full owing amount as a licens-
ing thereof. - -" The going prices were - "Circus $15.00, Vocalists, $5.00,
Juglers $10.00, Paintings and Panaramas $10.00."
SECOND "ORDNANCE" POLL TAX
This second "ordnance" paper on the same evening of the same day
at 8 p.m., announced a "Poll Tax of two days labor shall be and is hereby
levied upon each and every man over twenty years of age, not exempted by
law - -."
On Saturday, April 25th, 1857, the second meeting of the Board was
held at the office of J. D. Campbell at 6 p.m. The political pot was boiling
over by this time - the newly appointed street commissioner resigned at
this meeting, so a new one had to be appointed - John R. Phelps. That
same evening an appropriation was made " — that the sum of Ten Dollars
be, and the same is hereby appropriated out of Moneys, not otherwise ap-
propriated, to be expended by the Clerk for Stationary & Candles."
The evening of April 27, 1857, was the time that the first demands by
the people for sidewalks was expressed, and so "ordnances number 6, 7,
and 8 were papered, providing for the sidewalks of various streets. A quote
from the specifications for the construction of those sidewalks, says "This
sidewalk to be made of PLANKS 2 inches thick, and the walk to be 5 feet
wide, with the planks running length-wise and supported by ties under-
neath not more than five feet apart!" At this same meeting the clerk was
appropriated $10 for stationary & candles the second time. The Board met
seven times in the first month.
The meetings that followed dealt with "Ordnances" on such subjects
as hogs which were running loose about town, and the right to impound
them; the installing of POUNDED STONE around the town pump (located
in the center of Mason and Franklin Sts.) and allowing room for two teams
abreast to pass on each side of the town pump; and for the following -
"Assult & Battery, Gambling, drunkenness, and disturbing the peace (at
late hours of night)." The proposed fine was $10.00. (In case the persons
found guilty did not pay their fines, their property was sold to pay the
amount of the fine, however if there were dependents, the constable would
reserve, for the family - one bed and bedding, one cow, & Ten Dollars
worth of household goods.
By September of 1857 the need for a "Town House" was presented by
the township of Buffalo and they were offering $1,000 toward the construc-
tion if Polo would give $500. The proposal was rejected by the Board of
Trustees at that time.
Apparently there had been some losses by fire in Polo in 1857, be-
cause on October 2, 1857, "Ordnance" No. 29 was enacted creating the of-
fice of Fire Warden, and providing restrictions on improper stove pipe in-
stallations. The fines for not correcting their fire "hazzards" was $10 per
day. G. D. Reed and Daniel Burke were appointed Fire Wardens at that
Again, the political pot boils over - this time Daniel Burke resigned
as Fire Warden and Henry Hill was appointed, Nov. 11, 1857.
By December the city was about to engage in the first law suit, with
M. Gregory, for obstructing the Street Commissioner from putting down
sidewalk near his property on Freeport Street (Division Street). Campbell
and Carpenter were secured as attorneys for Polo.
Voice of the Prairie Page 11
The resignation of Henry Hill as Fire Warden is shown as Dec. 17. Hill
was replaced by Cornelius Woodruff. Then J. J. Wood resigned as con-
stable! He was replaced by John Niman. It would be interesting to know
the reasons for all these resignations, but, of course, the records do not
Considerable trouble had been experienced from time to time to get
the sidewalks in the year of 1857, and then the problem of abuses to the
sidewalks arose, so by the month of March it was necessary to enact "Or-
dnance" No. 33 which said, "It is hereby deemed unlawful for person or
persons to drive or ride any horse, mule or ox or wagon on any sidewalk
within the bounds of said corporation. (Fine $10.00)"
On March 9th, 1858, the second election of Trustees was held in the
basement of the store of Zenas Aplington. The political interest in the af-
fairs of the town was growing. At this election there were a total of 1,156
votes cast for the seven offices of Trustee. And that year, there were a total
of twenty-four (24) candidates for these offices.
Zenas Aplington, founder of our town, received in the 1857 election,
121 votes but in the 1858 election Aplington had lost popularity to the ex-
tent that he received only seventy-nine (79) votes. Thus he was defeated
for his second term of office. The election of the offices within the Board
of Trustees resulted in: President, L. N. Barber; Clerk, J. B. More; Treas-
urer, C. Woodruff.
The feeling of the day seemed to be that the town's business meeting
should not be held in the personal office of the president as it had been
done the year previous, is born out in the following report of the com-
mittee - "That they can have the South East room over Walter Carpen-
ters Store for five ($5) dollars a month and the board have engaged it for
three months from this date March 20, 1858 - the above papered by this
board this date."
Also, it was decided "That the Plow & Chain & Scraper & Crobar be
sold or exchanged and the proceeds be converted into Furniture for fur-
nishing Trustees Room and the President appointed C. Woodruff to make
the exchange and report to this board his doings at their next meeting."
It is to be noted that this plow was purchased from Allbe & Luther for
$16.86 and the Scraper and etc., had cost $6.00 in the month of December,
1857, so one can see that a change of politics had different views on the
importance of equipment of various kinds.
The next petition brought before the board on April 3rd by B. Galla-
ger, asked "For a licience for the sale of Liquor in less quantities than one
gallon" and was referred to Mr. Carpenter to examine and report on at
their next meeting.
At the same meeting "Ordnance" No. 33 was papered providing for
sidewalk from Dixon Street to Savannah Street (on the West Side of
Franklin St). The specifications instructed the "Said walk to be construc-
ted of two inch plank and sufficient bearings underneath, and croping to
be made three feet wide and one foot from the Street line. The above walk
to be constructed within Sixty days from the passage of this ordinance
Apr. 3, 1858."
It is believed that the following order from the Board to Harrison
Sanford to be the first such order to be given by the City to an individual.
"Whereas it has been made known to the President and Trustees of the
Town of Polo - by the petition of Z. Aplington and others, that the side-
walk on the West side of Franklin Street adjoining the Hotel of Harrison
Sanford extending from the Barroom of said Hotel to the Office of Camp-
bell and Carpenter is in a condition that is dangerous to life and property
Page 12 Voice of the Prairie
and requires that immediate action be taken thereon. Now therefore, be it
ordered that the Clerk of this board serve a Notice on Harrison Sanford re-
quiring him to repair the above mentioned portion of Franklin Street im-
mediately and put the same in a condition that will be safe and durable."
(Notice was served April 14)
J. R. Phelps was appointed Constable April 12th.
On the subject of trees, an ordnance was passed on April 19, 1859 in
which these words appear. "Within thirty days after the passage of this
ordnance, plant or cause to be planted in front of their lot or lots, suitable
shade or ornimental trees. Said trees shall be planted in distance apart
not more than sixteen feet in the discression of such owners. Said trees
shall be planted in said Division Street, six feet from the Street Line."
In order to protect the existing trees, the following - "that hereafter it
shall be unlawfull for any person to fasten any horse, mule or team of
any kind to any tree within any street, alley or Publick ground within the
corporation limits - "
These Ordnances were published in the "Ogle County Banner" and
It was on June 27, 1859 - 9 a.m. - that the first ordnance regarding
dogs was papered - "That all dogs and sluts which shall hereafter run at
large unmuzzled within the corporate limits of Polo are herby declared to
be public nuisances."
Earlier, the creation of the office of Fire Warden was noted, and after
a few resignations, the city felt the need of creating a regular Fire De-
It occurred Friday, August 12, 1859 when that ordnance was passed -
"That the Fire Warden of said town be Ex-Officio engineer of said Fire
Department, and as such shall direct the formation of said fire department
— that said fire department shall consist of a hook and ladder company.
- - Every person in said town who shall have or keep a store or shop, office
or other places of business, shall immediately after the publication of this
ordnance, furnish a common bucket, keep the same at all times filled with
water, in place of business for the purpose of extinguishing fire."
On October 15, 1859 the "ordnance" creating a Police Department was
papered. "Said Department shall consist of four policemen and one night
watchman, whose duty it shall be to keep the peace, suppress riots, routs,
and frays, and to prevent breaches of the peace, and to make complaint to
the proper court of all violations of ordnance of said town."
On October 21, 1859 - "On motion it was resolved that a DARK LAN-
TERN be furnished for the use of the night watchman." The night watch-
man's name was Nicholus Meldun, and business was so good that on the
night of Nov. 11, it was moved that the "committee" report plans for a
LOCK UP. On motion it was ordered that the "said building committee see
that said Lock-Up be executed at the earliest possible date."
On Feb. 10th, 1860 - "It shall be lawful to erect the Lock-up or Jail,
already provided for by ordinance, in the center of Colden Street, West of
Franklin Street in said town and the same is hereby authorized to be there
It is assumed that the jail was completed, because on March 23, 1860,
a bill for lumber for the jail was presented. The amount was $86.35.
To review a few facts about this little "Boom Town," after 1853 when
the Illinois Central Rail Road had obtained the right-of-way through this
area, there was a flood of laborers that were building that rail road and
they were in this area until January of 1855 when the last stretch of track
was laid between Freeport and Amboy. Also to be remembered is the fact
Voice of the Prairie Page 13
that there were about 2,500 people here in 1856, so naturally there were
various personalities to contend with, and when liquor was liberally mix-
ed into the affair, trouble arose. The result was that by October 19, 1859,
the "ordnance" passed defining a drunkard a nuisance!
Practically since the beginning of the Town Board there had been
petitions for a liquor license, but no action v/as ever taken on the matter
until November 28, 1859, when after four ballots it was decided to give a
license to George Weaver and Walter Carpenter. Incidently the cost of the
license was $150 for six months.
In order to attempt to control the liquor traffic in general this "ord-
nance" was passed - "any persons - who shall sell, barter, exchange, or
otherwise dispose of any - spiritious or malt liquors in any quantity what-
soever must be licensed." At this time there were as many as eleven sa-
loons operating in this town.
The problem of horses racing in the streets was becoming acute by
the month of February 1860, so at that meeting on February 10th this
"ordnance" was drawn up - "It shall be unlawful for any person or per-
sons, to race any horse, mare, or colt, or to ride or drive the same within
the limits of said town, faster than the usual gait. The fine was not less
than two or more than ten dollars."
On gun-powder storage an "ordnance" was enacted, April 2, 1861. "Em-
powering the Fire- Warden to inquire into and order all persons in Polo,
keeping powder for sale, or other purposes, shall order and see that they
shall not be kept in any package or parcel - to exceed ten pounds within
the Sale room. — unless the same be kept in a zink vessel and that kept in
a wooden box, in the most secure place in the room, and that not to exceed
twenty-five pounds shall be kept in any one building and that in loft of
"Ordnances" governing "side-walks" seem to have been the majority
of all "ordnances" exisiting between 1856 and 1888. Others, however, were
One papered on July 14, 1876 read "Be it ordained by the common
council of the city of Polo that hereafter, it shall be unlawful for any per-
son to keep open any barber shop or carry on the business of shaving or
hair cutting on Sunday, in said city of Polo, and any person who shall vio-
late the provisions of this ordinance shall be fined for each offense the sum
of Five Dollars and costs."
Papered on July 16, 1878 - "That hereafter it shall be unlawful for any
person or persons to play the game of ball, or to toss, throw, pitch, or
strike any ball in any street or alley within the city of Polo. Any person
violating the ordnance shall be fined therefore in any sum not exceeding
$5 and costs for each offense."
Then again on Aug. 4, 1882 - children please take note - "Hereafter it
shall be unlawful for any person or persons to sell or keep for sale or use
or discharge within the City limits of said City, any instrument or instru-
ments, known as a toy pistol. Whoever violates Section one of this ordnance
shall be fined not less than $3 nor more than $10 for each offense."
In 1910 the Tri-County Press printed the revised Ordinances of the
City of Polo that were prepared and compiled by Read and Bracken.
These ordinances are the ones our city is governed by today and one in
particular we felt might interest the younger people of our town. "It shall
be unlawful for any minor under the age of sixteen years of age to be upon
the public streets, or upon any public ground, or in any public place in
said City of Polo, between the hours of nine o'clock in the evening and
four o'clock in the morning, from the first day of April to the first day in
Voice of the Prairie
October, or between the hours of eight o'clock in the evening and four o'-
clock in the morning from the first day of October to the first day of Ap-
ril, unless in the company of or attended by the parent or guardian of such
minor, or by some person over the age of sixteen years, who has been en-
trusted by the parent or guardian of such minor with the care of such
minor. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be fined
not less than one dollar nor more than five dollars for each offense."
And so our town has grown and prospered as recorded by our city
ALMOST 100 YEARS OLD
The brick building on East Webster and Prairie Streets was built by Dan-
iel O'Kane in the early 1860's. When John Hoyle, present owner, was re-
wiring the house, he found three well-preserved boxes of cigars under
the upstairs floor. There were fifty cigars in a box and the brand name
In 1856, 2,500 people lived in Polo. There were eleven saloons in the
town then and reportedly eleven to thirteen churches actively operating in
homes and public buildings.
The first building east of Kecklers was occupied approximately in 1879
by the City Drug Store. A plumbing shop was next to the drug store and in
1917 Harry and Frank Bomberger purchased these two buildings and op-
ened a garage, later operated by Bryant and Paul Bomberger, sons of
Voice of the Prairie
OLDEST POLO CHURCH
The Presbyterians celebrated their hundredth birthday in 1948. This
church was dedicated in 1857.
The Church Buildings In Polo
No true history of Polo can be given without sp?.ce for its churches,
for the pioneer preacher ever follows close on the foot-steps of the first
settler. With faith in God, love of their family Bible, charity toward their
neighbors, these early settlers held religious meetings in their homes con-
ducted by circuit riders, ministers or priests. There were no church build-
ings so the grove, a tavern, a house, or a barn were used as a place of
worship. To attend these meetings, people came long distances. Homes
Page 16 Voice of the Prairie
were opened to them for stay over-night, or for as long as the meetings
There follows only the briefest outline of the history of the churches
in Polo, offered as an affectionate tribute to those whose generosity made
these buildings possible and as an expression of gratitude to those who
sacrificed so willingly for God and Country.
The Old School Baptist Church
The earliest public worship in Buffalo Township was conducted in 1834
in a log house built by Mr. Brookie and Mr. Bush. There was no floor in
this building and the congregation of about twenty persons sat on punch-
eons. The services were conducted by a Baptist preacher, Rev. John Tom-
In 1840, the First Baptist Church of Buffalo Grove was organized and
services were held in the school house. At the time the city of Polo was
founded these services had ceased, and not until 1870 was this congregation
re-organized. With a membership of forty-two, a church was built on West
Mason Street. This church had the first pipe organ in Polo. It was hand-
pumped by Frank Wamsley.
The Christian Church
West Mason Street
In 1904, the present Christian Church was organized in Polo and the
Baptist Church building, which had been erected in 1872 at a cost of $7,000
was purchased for their place of worship. Following an extensive series of
meetings held by Rev. Monger, an evangelist, a congregation was organized
with 43 charter members. This congregation celebrated its 50th annivers-
ary on February 28, 1954. Extensive repairs and alterations have kept the
building in fine condition.
The First Methodist Episcopal Church
West Mason and Congress Streets
Mr. McKean organized the Buffalo Grove and the Polo Methodist
Church, March 13, 1835 following meetings held for the past year. This
was the first organized church within the present limits of Ogle County.
The first services were held in the Oliver Kellogg tavern in the north end
of Buffalo Grove. In 1836, services were held in the Wilcoxon log cabin,
later in the school and in 1849 with lumber hauled from Chicago, a church
was begun and completed in 1850. The first parsonage, located near the
Old Town Cemetery, was purchased in 1844. The second was purchased in
Polo in 1857, and was at the corner of Division and Buffalo Streets. That
year, following the growth of Polo, services were held in the morning in
Buffalo Grove and in Polo in the afternoon. The first services in Polo were
held in the brick schoolhouse, now the home of Mrs. Milbrey Mulnix, 317
South Franklin Street. In 1860, ground was secured where the present
Methodist Church stands and in 1862, a white frame, colonial type build-
ing with a tall steeple was built. The church now used was built in 1898 at
a total cost of $15,000 and dedicated January 29, 1899. When these services
commenced there was a deficit of $3,675, and before the conclusion of the
evening services, this sum was in the hands of the Board of Trustees. In
1925, the Guyer Memorial Room was added to the church. This room was
partially destroyed by fire but was re-built. The present parsonage was
built in' 1900 at the cost of $3,800.
Voice of the Prairie Page 17
The Episcopal Church
Congress and West Webster Streets
The Episcopal Church was organized in Polo, in July 1858. A year later
a church was built where the present Church of the Brethren stands. It
was completed in December, 1862, at a cost of $3,100, and within a year
from that time, all indebtedness was paid. The Episcopal Church was dis-
banded in 1880, the congregation uniting with the Presbyterians. The wood
frame building was purchased by the Church of the Brethren in 1885 for
$900 and was used for their services until 1904 when it was sold to make
room for the new Church of the Brethren.
The Christian Science Church
116 North Franklin Street
In a small frame building, first used as the insurance office of M. E.
Schryver, Sr., located mid-way in the first block on the East side of North
Franklin Street, the first services of the Church of Christian Science were
held in 1898. There were few members and the church was disbanded
December 8, 1922. The building became Weaver's Tin Shop and later was
torn down. The Fairview Farm Dairy building is located now on that lot.
The Catholic Church
Franklin and Dixon Streets
As early as 1854, Mass was offered in the homes of the parishoners.
Zenas Aplington gave the Catholics a plot of ground on North Franklin
street in what was known at that time as Irish Hollow, with the under-
standing that a church was to be built there within a year. In six months
a small white frame church costing $1500 was completed and occupied in
the winter of 1856 and was the first church built in the city of Polo. It was
enlarged and years later moved to the alley back of the north side of the
100 block on East Mason Street. It was used as a hall, a bakery, and is now
a storehouse for the Polo Elevator Company. The present brick church
was built in 1899 at the cost of $10,000. The property adjoining the church
on the south was purchased and a rectory built at the cost of $6,000. In 1953
a basement-hall with modern kitchen and dining-room was added.
The Emmanuel United Evangelical Church of Polo
Congress and Locust Streets
The Evangelical Church in Polo was started in 1869 in the home of
John Schell. The first meetings were conducted in the German language
in the Episcopal Church, later in the Methodist Church in the afternoon.
In 1878 they built a white frame church costing $3,500 at the corner of
Locust and Congress Streets. There were thirty members at the time. Early
in 1900 the church was disbanded and the building was sold to the Polo
School to be used as a gymnasium. Eventually this property was sold to
David Rebuck and was remodeled into a home, presently occupied by
Mrs. Elizabeth Cross.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church
Division and Locust Streets
The Lutheran Church in Polo was organized in 1870 by Rev. Peter G.
Bell, meeting with thirty-six members in the Methodist Church. Services
were held in the basement of the Presbyterian Church, the city hall (over
Page 18 Voice of the Prairie
Funk and Petrie Hardware Store), and later Sunday afternoons in the
Methodist Church. A donation of $100 was paid for this privilege.
In September 1870 a brick building used as a bank at the corner of
Division and Locust streets was torn down and the lot purchased for $1500.
In the fall of 1872 a $21,000 church building was completed, much of
the labor being donated. In 1878 a bell costing $538 was hung in the belfry.
In 1893 the church was repaired and later electric lights replaced kerosene
In 1876 the parsonage north of the church was purchased for $1025
and a new one built there in 1897 costing $3625.
In 1904 the Sunday School connecting the church and the parsonage
was built. In 1907 a fine pipe-organ was installed. These church buildings
of gray limestone were considered the largest and finest in Ogle County.
In March 1928, a fire destroyed this church with an estimated loss of
$75,000. The twin spires and bell crashed to the earth. The new church
and Sunday School buildings were finished December 1928 and dedicated
free of debt.
Chimes donated by Miss Jennie Hunt were installed in the fall of 1945.
The First Presbyterian Church
Division and Dixon Streets
The Independent Presbyterian Church was organized at Buffalo Grove
May 5, 1848, the same day the Congregational Church, which had existed
for a number of years, disbanded. The church services were held in the
schoolhouse and in the Union Church in Buffalo Grove. In 1855 at a meet-
ing in the Zenas Aplington home, the decision to build in Polo was made
and the cornerstone was laid July 4, 1855.
During 1855 and 1856 services were held in the Williams Hall on Mas-
on street or in Mosher's Hall (still standing) 108 North Division street. The
church of red brick colonial type with tall spire was dedicated August 15,
1857. The cost was $10,000. The building was used by other churches and
the basement by the public school.
A festival in 1856 provided $153 to puchase the bell hung in the belfry.
In 1860, on election day, it rang the first time for the public on Saturday
evening, November 10, 1860, to announce the election of President Abraham
Lincoln. This bell told the news during the Civil War. If there was a defeat
or a death of a Polo boy, the bell tolled slowly. If there was a victory, the
bell rang joyously, and everyone hurried to the town square where the
news was given out from the band-stand.
This congregation celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the dedication
of the church in August 1907, and the Centennial of its organization in 1948.
The Church of the Brethren
Congress and Webster Streets
Services for the members of the Church of the Brethren were held as
early as 1855. Meetings were in the Brick school house and in Funk and
Petrie Hall, also in the Methodist Church in Buffalo Grove. In 1880, the
Brethren rented the Episcopal Church building and purchased it in 1885.
There were thirty-five members at this time.
On January 1, 1905, a new church costing $4,500 was dedicated and
in September of that year, the seventy members in and around Polo were
granted the privilege of organizing as a separate congregation. Mr. John
Heckman was elected elder; Mr. John Burner, treasurer; Mr. Philip Gray-
Voice of the Prairie Page 19
In 1954, this church was completely remodeled and enlarged with an
extensive education department added at a cost of $97,690.07 with 16,000
hours of donated labor.
The Emmanuel Evangelical United Brethren Church
Franklin and Buffalo Street
The Evangelical United Brethren Church began with services in Buf-
falo Grove in 1858 held in the Methodist Church. The next year they placed
seats in the school house and held their services there until 1863 when they
began their services in Polo.
In 1878, with a membership double that of the original seventy-five,
they built a frame church at 401 S. Franklin street on the lot now occupied
by the residence of Wm. Lampin. A lot was secured at 300 S. Franklin and a
building for a church moved to it.
In November, 1900 when organically united with the United Brethren,
this church was enlarged, remodeled and redecorated.
In 1956, on East Oregon and Union streets, a large tract of land was
purchased and plans are being made to build a new church at this site.
"Passing through one of the park-like woods in Northern Illinois, almost
clear from underbrush and carpeted with thick grass and flowers, we met
(for it was Sunday) a little congregation just returning from their church
service, which had been held in a rude house in its midst. It had a sweet
and peaceful air, as if such words and thoughts were very dear to them.
The parents had with them all their little children; but we saw no old
people; that charm was wanting which exists in such scenes in older set-
tlements, of seeing the silver bent in reverence beside the flaxen head."
Written by Margaret Fuller in 1843.
"The church interest in Polo is second to none in the county. The
church buildings are large, commodious; some of them quite expensive. The
zeal of the church going people may be witnessed every Sunday morning
as the several bells call together several hundred devout worshipers. In
short, the society of Polo is good."
Taken from the Atlas of Ogle County, 1872.
The only lynching Polo was seriously threatened with, was on that
April day when the wires flashed the terrible news of the assassination of
President Lincoln, and, as it was then feared, of members of his cabinet
also. Early that morning it was reported that Peter Dawson, an elderly
lumberman, had expressed his joy at the news. In their excited state, the
people could not let such remarks pass unheeded. Cooler heads appointed
a committee of fifteen to go to Dawson and give him one hour to leave
town, and he, appreciating his danger, took advantage of the warning.
One of Polo's oldest business buildings still in use is the one that houses
Muench's Shoe Store. The location was once the site of Williams Hall in
an earlier day used as a school, public house and church. A Mr. Hitt erected
a new building in 1863, sold it in 1866 to M. E. Getzendaner for $3,760.
Polo's first movie, admission 5c, was opened upstairs, now occupied by the
Schryver Insurance Agency. In the Getzendaner family for 91 years it is
owned by Mrs. M. E. Schryver and Mrs. A. J. Ocker, daughters of Mr.
Page 20 Voice of the Prairie
FIRST SCHOOL BUILDING
llll | |
This school was built in 1867 at the site of the present Grade School facing
to the west.
Each Polo citizen proudly points out the four buildings, two of which
are still under construction, which are used for the purpose of educating
the youth of our town. These imposing edifices will house a high school,
junior high, and two elementary schools ... a real contrast to the first Polo
school, a one room wooden structure with few facilities. What changes have
come about from the time of the three R's and the hickory stick to the
present system of education in Polo! A peek into the past reveals Polo has
progressed in its educational standards and facilities. This growth and
advance is shown by looking at the history of the schools in Polo.
As the early settlers came to this vicinity, their primary concern was
to build shelter for their families and to provide a living. As they became
more settled and grew accustomed to their new environment, these first
Poloans realized the need for education and for the instruction of their
The first school was in Buffalo Grove in 1834. It was not until 1854-55
that Polo had its first house of learning. This was in the Williams Building;
a small structure located on the north side of Mason near Division Street,
now occupied by the Muench Shoe Store. This private school was where
Lucy Bassett qualified as Polo's first teacher. Miss Bassett's successor was
John Savage who also taught at Williams Hall, as the school came to be
Voice of the Prairie Page 21
In the first ten or twelve years, Polo schools were held in various
places. For a time the residence of Mrs. Milbrey Mulnix at 317 South Frank-
lin Street was used. Mosher Hall, now the residence of Dr. Louise Keator,
North Division Street, and the residence of Archie Smith, 402 South
Congress Street, were in use. Also school was held for a time at 112 North
Franklin Street, directly across from the present Town Hall.
By 1857 the Polo School District was formed. It divided Polo into two
districts which were bound by Mason Street and extended about one mile
outside the city.
The newly elected school board rented the Presbyterian Church as a
classroom. The other district built a one story brick building for $1,200. It
was at this school that Sarah Hackett Stevenson, who became a world
known physician, taught.
These districts were poorly organized and difficulties between the two
arose. These were settled in 1867 when the two districts and Buffalo Grove
were joined together by an act of the Illinois State Legislature. After this
act came the first permanent building at the northwest corner of Locust
and Congress. Construction of the new school started soon after the two
districts were joined together. This eight room blue limestone building
This three story building was built to accomodate 500 pupils (both
grade and high school). In fact by 1872, the school housed 501 pupils in both
the grade and high school. This same year Polo's first alumni, its smallest
class, was graduated; it was composed of five members.
It is interesting to note during these early times the school was often
visited by out-of-towners who commented on education in Polo in the town
newspaper. For example, in November, 1871, one visitor wrote on how well
Virgil was read by one of the students of Greek. He further praised their
use of modern methods; no text books for grammer classes but only oral
Every Friday pupils engaged in debates, and at the end of the year
public examinations were held. All of this made the citizens proud of their
school system. But in spite of this, the town's citizens criticized the teachers'
salaries. To clear up the matter a public defense was made, and the salaries
The superintendent, Prof. Freeman, a captain in the Civil War, re-
ceived $1,400; Miss Jessup, $500; Mr. Hall, $400; and the remainder, $360 per
year. The taxes given to the school totaled $11,717 of which $5,000 was
required to run the school; the rest was paid on bonds.
In the first high school a three year unaccredited course was offered.
Those who wanted to go to college finished high school in four year ac-
Anna Parmalee, former college mathematics instructor and a graduate
of P. C. H. S. class of 1874, recalled that the early schools were ungraded.
Pupils were classed according to age. Younger groups were often scattered
in various class rooms around town. Here teachers served five to six classes
in one room.
During the next ten to twenty years the school became more crowded.
Classes were not only held in private homes but also again in the Presby-
terian Church. By 1890 people finally realized the need for a new school.
It was started in April, 1899, and in May the old school was torn down to
make way for the new building. On November 20, 1899, it was officially
opened for school.
Page 22 Voice of the Prairie
In this building, which housed the eighth grade and high school on the
upper floor in one room, the furnishings were owned and loaned by public
spirited citizens. At a later date the board could buy these for $8,375. By
1909 this new building, grounds, and equipment were valued at $50,000.
In 1927 after a heated election a separate high school was built. On
March 28, 1927, one hundred ninety students marched from the present
grade school to the new high school. By 1948 this fully accredited high
school had graduated 1,000 students.
In 1935 the WPA-government-paid project was the present fine ath-
letic field. Further federal aid was granted after the voters of the district
allowed an addition to the high school which had become overcrowded
and needed more and better facilities.
The other building of education, Polo Grade School, was also crowded.
The additions there were completed in 1951. They included the building
of a gym, kindergarten, and two classrooms.
Before the addition of the high school could begin, the possibility
arose of forming unit districts in the county for better solving of school
problems and to make more state aid possible. It was voted upon in 1954
and Polo School District 222 was born.
Later investigation found that it would be beneficial to build a new
high and a grade school rather than more additions to house those included
in the new districts. This was voted into effect in 1955. Soon after, work
on a new high and grade school began which will open in Polo's Cen-
tennial year ... a fitting present for Polo's one hundreth birthday — and an
evolution of schools into a fine educational system.
The grocery store (now Brackens) which Cunningham later operated,
was first owned by a man named Harry Murray. One feature of the store
made it unique in the light of present day conceptions. All along one side
was a row of open whiskey kegs, each fitted with a dipper, where patrons
of the store might partake of a drink at Mr. Murray's expense. Cunning-
ham and Bingaman were clerks in the store and when Mr. Murray passed
away leaving no beneficiaries, the store was offered at public auction. Mr.
L. F. Thomas made an inventory of all merchandise in harmony with the
purchasing price of the goods. During this same year a revenue tax was
placed on liquor, but the whiskey in the store was inventoried at purchase
price. The two clerks managed to borrow enough money from friends to
buy the store at inventory price, later they were able to sell the stock at
the benefit of the tax price. From this shrewd act these two clerks later
became citizens of great financial power in the community of Polo.
On West Dixon Street down by the section the youth today call "The
Little Red," on the west side of the creek and on the south side of the
road, on the property now owned by Melvin Grossnickle, stood "Barber's
Park." There was a race track, ball diamonds, and a grove. Charles Gunder
Sr. bought it and cut the timber; later it was incorporated into the farm
now known as Grossnickles.
In 1856 a grist mill was built on the west side of the I. C. railroad next
to Colden Street. The building was long used as a warehouse by the Mc-
Grath Lumber Company. In 1950 the building was razed. The old mill
stone is now resting on the side lawn of the McGrath home on West Mason
Street. The mill stone was first located on the lot occupied by the residence
of Edward Dusing, 501 East Mason Street and removed in 1879.
Voice of the Prairie
MAIN STREET IN 1870-72
Building on left is Exchange Hotel where Post Office is now located.
This building in 1870 replaced the "Sanford House" which had been built
in 1853. It was operated as a hotel and bank and was erected by Wayne
and Schell at the cost of $2600. On the right of the picture is the building
built by Zenas Aplington in 1853-54. The first brick building on Mason
Street was torn down in approximately 1880 or '81 and was replaced by
the present building occupied by the Gamble Store erected in the early
1880's by Henry Barber for use as Barber's Bank.
The Polo Post Office
The Post Office is of vital importance in every community and one
was established early in this area as the history shows. All economic life
is dependent upon communication and efforts were made early to trans-
mit messages. The records of the Post Office Department according to the
history of Ogle County show that an advertisement issued from the De-
partment June 18, 1827, contained a call for proposals for a route from
Peoria to Galena once in two weeks, but there is no evidence that a con-
tract was actually made. The first department record of a route that would
pass through Buffalo township is for services from 1830 to 1834. Such a
route was continued through several successive contracts. Isaiah Rucker
was a driver of one of these routes. Descendants of Isaiah Rucker still live
in this area.
The National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D. C, show
mail contract 2797, from Buffalo Grove (via Elkhorn Grove, Savanna and
Page 24 Voice of the Prairie
Charleston) to Bellview, was let to William Myers from May, 1838, to
June 30, 1842, (40 miles and back) once a week, for $50 per annum. Mail
contract 11668, from Polo (via Eagle Point, Elkhorn Grove and Rock Creek)
to Mount Carroll, let to Henry William Holland on April 24, 1862, (25 miles
and back) twice a week, for $325 per annum.
The government record also shows that Buffalo Grove Post Office
was established Feb. 12, 1833, with E. P. Bush as postmaster, and in
January, 1855, the name was changed from Buffalo Grove to Polo and the
office was moved from Buffalo Grove to Polo in the night.
The records state that the move was made in the night to avoid
trouble and the office opened the next morning as if nothing had happened
and the opposition died down. The new location was in a building on the
south side of Mason Street about half way between Franklin Street and
the railroad. George D. Read was re-appointed postmaster for the new
The office was afterwards removed to Dr. More's Drug Store on the
corner of Franklin and Locust Streets (now the Ziegler Clinic location).
In 1858, the office was moved to the north side of Mason Street about mid-
way between Franklin and Division Streets. In 1861 the office was again
moved to Division Street — three doors north of Mason Street (building
now owned by Lester Weaver, occupied by Maxine's Beauty Parlor).
In 1878, the office was in the northwest corner of a building on the
corner of Mason and Franklin. This building, a two story brick, was con-
demned and had to be torn down and the office was then moved to the
back part of a substantial new two story building on the northeast corner
of Mason and Franklin (now occupied by the Gamble Store). From these
quarters, the office was again moved. This time to the present bank build-
ing in the room now occupied by the Rotary Club. In May, 1934, the office
moved to its present location on the northwest corner of Mason and
The first Jlural Free Delivery Routes from Polo were established
Aug. 15, 1900, with Willard H. Atkins and W. E. Grim as carriers. Three
routes were added in 1905. In 1907 there were eight routes extending out
and serving all the neighboring territory. Some of the Rural Carriers who
have served in the past were Jack Bracken, Ted Shipman, Fred Woodruff,
Bill Snook, Charles Smith, A. Smith, Ross Miller, Cort Miller, Ralph Snook,
Bert Wendle, Leo Devaney, John Hackett and Lester Hurdle.
In 1912, Lester Hurdle started serving his route on a motorcycle. A
couple of years later other carriers used the motorcycle as a mode of travel
and this method was continued for five years. Then the automobile came
into use. Bert Wendle was the first carrier to use a car. As the automobile
and roads were improved the routes were consolidated. There are now
three routes serving six hundred thirty families, and traveling one hun-
dred eighty miles.
The Polo office was entered as Second Class in July, 1907.
Some of the clerks who have served in the office were John Gaffney,
Jesse Mcllnay, Bob Franks, Raymond Good, Ralph Fager and John
City delivery was established in July, 1918, with John Mulnix and
Bob Franks as city carriers. Other carriers who have served the routes
wfre Leon Philipps, Hank Cross, Ralph Fager, Leon Roberts and Elmer
Voice of the Prairie Page 25
The Postmasters listed on the record for Polo are as follows:
1. Oliver W. Kellogg Dec. 21, 1835
2. John D. Stevenson April 11, 1839
3. Dan Higley March 3, 1840
4. George D. Read Oct. 19, 1844
5. Chanceford R. Barber May 19, 1847
6. Isaiah Wilcoxen July 6, 1849
7. George D. Read May 5, 1853
(Post Office changed to Polo)
8. Hamilton Norton March 12, 1861
9. John W. Clinton April 7, 1875
10. Caroline E. Aplington Jan. 9, 1883
11. Norris S. McCoy Jan. 19, 1888
12. Morrison W. Coursey Jan. 23, 1892
13. Howard H. Thomas Jan. 21, 1896
14. Harry Spear Oct. 21, 1899
15. Wm. T. Clopper Jan. 17, 1916
16. John L. Hackett (acting) Nov. 10, 1920
17. Albert S. Tavenner Nov. 9, 1921
18. John L. Hackett (acting) Dec. 31, 1933
19. Martin J. Naylon June 22, 1934
20. Mary M. Hackett July 1, 1949
Polo had, for many years, a fine golf course and the club house located
on the west edge of town. Not only was it within walking distance of any-
one who lived here but was also within the economical reach of anyone
who wished to belong. It was the center of social activities each summer
and was open for social gatherings throughout the year.
It was established in 1915 and was one of the finest small golf courses
in northern Illinois for nearly 30 years. In 1944, the course, which was vir-
gin prairie, was plowed up for farm land, much to the regret of the entire
community and golfers from neighboring towns. Many fine golfers still
give evidence of neighboring courses of skills attained at Edgewood Coun-
George W. Cooper had a harness shop on the Lindemann corner (north-
east corner of Division and Mason). He employed from six to a dozen men
making harness, saddles and bridles. The Cornelius Wadsworth harness
shop was two doors east of Cooper's harness shop. He had five men work-
ing for him. In J. P. Miller's wagon and buggy shop (now the Ford Garage)
there were usually a dozen men working making wagons and buggies en-
tirely by hand from wood from Buffalo Grove.
The long known More residence at 202 N. Franklin Street was built
by John B. More in 1854. In the same year he built the residence at 201
North Jackson Street, now occupied by Mrs. Robert Wetzel, daughter of
Dr. J. H. More and granddaughter of John B. More. This house has been
in the More family for the entire 100 years.
Voice of the Prairie
THE BANK CORNER
On the left side of the picture from Franklin Street over the first store is
the Bingaman and Cunningham grocery store (now ocupied by Brackens),
then Jake Brubaker's feed store. The chimney in the background belong-
ed to the electric company where electricity was made to furnish our town
by coal, the three story stone building directly to the rear of the grocery
store was the I. O. O. F. building.
On the other corner, presently occupied by the bank, the first building
coming west was Monahans Restaurant; the second. Reinert's Fix-It-Shop,
then the Thomas building occupied by Roger. Picture taken about 1909!
Banking in Polo
Lemuel N. Barber came to Buffalo Grove in August 1843. In October
of the same year, he and iris brother Chanceford R. Barber opened a gen-
eral merchandise store in Buffalo Grove. Chanceford did some private
banking there. The interest rate was ten per cent or more. Then Lemuel
moved his merchandise store to Polo in 1856.
Chanceford Barber moved to Polo and opened his bank in the west
end of the main floor of the then Sanford Hotel (now the Post Office). Later
he built a brick building where the Lutheran church now stands, facing
south. Here he operated for two years. In 1858 he built the west part of
the Hough Hardware building and moved his bank there. Here he carried
on his bank for sixteen years.
Voice of the Prairie Page 27
During this period the Exchange National Bank was organized and in
1870 the Exchange Building, now the Marco Hotel and Post Office, was
built, displacing the former Sanford hotel. In 1871 the first president of
the Exchange National Bank was Rube Wagner and first cashier was W. T.
Schell Sr. Its capital stock was $60,000. In 1872 the capital stock was raised
In March of 1874 Chanceford Barber organized the bank firm as Bar-
ber and Trumbauer and moved to the brick building on the northeast cor-
ner of Mason and Franklin Streets (now the Gamble Store). Chanceford
Barber died in 1879 and his son, Henry Barber, who had taken a position
in the bank as a teller in 1874 (at the age of 19), took over his father's bank-
ing interests. Sometime between 1880 and 1883 the Barbers built the brick
bank building on the same location. Henry Barber passed away in 1896 r
leaving Bryant Barber, the younger brother, in charge. In 1902 the bank
firm built the present bank building, finishing it in 1903. The Barber's
Bank was operated as a private bank throughout its history. The bank
closed in 1917 after the supposed suicide of Bryant Barber.
The Exchange National Bank (present post office building) was still
operating, having reorganized about 1931 as the First National Bank. This
bank closed in the fall of 1932.
The Polo State Bank organized after the closing of Barber Bros. Bank
in 1917 with A. M. Johnson as president. The Polo State Bank closed in 1933.
The present Polo National Bank was organized and chartered under
the date of August 10, 1935, and opened for business on August 15th of the
same year. There was $50,000 capital, $10,000 surplus and $2,500 undivided
profits. Our present Polo National Bank has been successfully solving the
banking problems of our people since 1935.
Henry (Hen) Wolf, a shoemaker, came to Polo in 1856. He built a small
shoe shop located where the present I. O. O. F. building now stands. Wolf
had a wooden leg and as the children waited for their shoe repairs, he
would drive a peg into his leg to try and frighten the children. His friends
loafed in his shop. Each had his own chair. They contributed enough to
keep the pot-bellied stove going in winter, as they discussed the issues of
the day. Their spittoon was a knothole in the floor. Criticism came to him
who missed! When the I.O.O.F. built their hall, this shop was moved to
Franklin Street. It now makes up the east part of the Cozy Cafe.
The Samuel Waterbury home was located in the southern part of Polo,
where the south end Standard Oil station now operates, and it was a known
headquarters for the underground railroad. A slave by the name of Eliza-
beth Hamlin, brought here by Maria Waterbury, died while in this home
and is buried near the Samuel Waterbury lot at Fairmount cemetery. There
is a small stone marking the grave of "Black Betty" as she was called,
bearing her name and the words "Once a Slave."
The city installed a public water supply in 1891. Water was obtained
from two deep wells located 50 feet north of the Chicago, Burlington &
Quincy R. R. tracks and 50 feet east of Division St. The surface elevation
is 830 feet. Well No. 1, called the West Well, was drilled to a depth of 2100
feet in 1891 by the J. P. Miller Artesian Well Co., Brookfield. Well No. 2,
East Well, was drilled to 1200 feet in 1901. On March 25, 1948, a new well
was drilled by J. P. Miller & Co., located 100 feet east of Well No. 2.
Voice of the Prairie
HOME OF POLO'S FIRST MAYOR
This house, located on Dixon Street east of the railroad tracks and present-
ly occupied by the M. R. Van Cleaves, was the home of Polo's first mayor.
Newspaper History in Polo
Newspaper history in the thriving town of Polo began unfolding in
the golden month of October in the year 1856 when F. O. Austin, a sup-
porter of the principles of the Democratic Party, established in the young
town a newspaper he called the SENTINEL.
Little is known of Mr. Austin except this: he was a small replica of
the giants of American Journalism of that day only his operations were
centered in a small town instead of a large city.
Polo was booming in those days since Zenas Aplington had started
the moving rush northeastward from Buffalo Grove about 1849 when he
had moved one of his houses to what is now the southwest corner of
Franklin and Locust Streets. (Where at present stands the home of John
Paap Sr.) Trade was active; building was on the upgrade. These condi-
tions convinced Mr. Austin that Polo was the field in which his journalistic
endeavors could attain success.
TUN ,A**r2 5H
EX PL AH ATI On
STRE/\riS > <*
HILLS * s
SETTLERS i TR/1
A David Hof thine.
B u ffato Grove ©
got its name fron^
the /ar^e amount"^
of B^ttalo bones£
found on the east
end of the cjr o re v
There Were acres**
Of them. ^
Mo White manZ^
ever saw a. live
Buffalo here r S~
Hist or i an s H~.
Say the winter /£.
1111-18 tn Hi *
WAS V ery severe u
With three* four (^
feet of- Sno w.
There came a. \
thaw and a hard\
Cr cist form ed on
top. The BuffQlos
unable to find
r LS BEFORE 1640$$
Lit Q* Office oppenedin D>»On IQH F\. O £.
Joe DQVieSS Co. until/ I83t>
was or gin i zed
..W.Ham /"/Ton Son of Alexander
H&milXon Su r v eyed To wnships in
/833 Sections not untill 1810
Other Settlers not
loc at ed o n map
Stage on Galena road
Simon F ellows
Rev James McKean
Lendrd A ndr us
Hir dm He Namer
Job m rl. Sm Lth
Hugh Ste ve son
Hun 4 Co. Second StocK
Geo. D Read
Deacon T. Per Hens
John Broad Well
Joh n Woodruff
Jrd. Z. Roberts
Thorn &S Woodruff.
Isaac 5. woodruff-
Willi dm 0. Woodruff
John W. Stewart
Jacob Pet ri e
\G ilen a. The ICfl H. originally planned
to follow this route.. '
Russell G. Poole tton.lUo
Voice of the Prairie Page 29
However, his calculations went awry somewhere for the SENTINEL
which had begun life with gusto and promise ceased publication in Decem-
ber of 1856 — and Polo was without a newspaper. The SENTINEL published
less than four months. No copy of the SENTINEL is known to exist but
it lives in the records as the first newspaper published in Polo, and the
first Democratic newspaper published in Ogle County.
With the SENTINEL not publishing, the New Year of 1857 did not
have an auspicious beginning, at least until John Marcellus Perkins came
out with Polo's second newspaper, the CHAMPION OF FREEDOM in Jan-
uary of that year. (Vol. VI, Illinois Historical Collections, Newspapers and
Periodicals of Illinois, 1814-1879 says this newspaper was the CHAMPION
OF FREEDOM, whereas John W. Clinton, who came to Polo in the year
1857, the very year it was established and who was the community's most
noted historian, in his own scrapbook of Polo history permitted it to be
called the BANNER OF FREEDOM.)
The publisher of the CHAMPION OF FREEDOM had high hopes for
his paper's success but they were built upon a foundation of sand. The
paper which, from its name appears to have anticipated patronage and
support from political sources unfavorable to the extension of slavery,
succumbed in the heavy economic seas that always prove the nemesis of
politically inspired enterprises. Mr. Perkins was an ultra-abolitionist.
While only a few numbers of the CHAMPION OF FREEDOM were
issued, John W. Clinton who will be mentioned later was reported in 1910
to own copies of one or two of these very few.
No copies of the CHAMPION OF FREEDOM were found by the Clin-
ton family in the mass of historical material that had been accumulated
over a period covering more than 40 years, 36 as a newspaper editor and
The last member of his family has stated that several boxes of histor-
ical material were shipped to the State Historical Library in Springfield
after his death. If Mr. Clinton did own copies of the CHAMPION OF
FREEDOM they are probably buried in the archives of the historical li-
It can be assumed that the CHAMPION OF FREEDOM foundered in
the rough journalistic seas in late January or early February of 1857 since
the records state that it was founded in January 1857 and "only a few
numbers were issued."
So Polo was again without a newspaper, but not for long. The town
needed a newspaper as is evidenced by the action taken by a group of the
community's leading citizens including Zenas Aplington, W. W. Burns, L.
W. Warren, Lemuel Newton Barber and S. C. Treat, names which loomed
large in the community in its first half century, some of which names are
still represented by descendants in the year 1957.
These gentlemen seeing the Community's need for a newspaper began
the publication of the POLO TRANSCRIPT in June of 1857. This paper
is the direct lineal ancestor of the TRI COUNTY PRESS of today. It was
edited by Charles Meigs Jr., of Chicago, a newspaperman of ability but
whose addiction to the bottle was his chief roadblock to progress.
Launched with enthusiasm for the future and backed by the leading
citizens of the town the TRANSCRIPT gave promise of fulfilling the
dreams of its sponsors. However, the journalistic seas still running high
were too much for the TRANSCRIPT which was purchased by Henry R.
Boss, member of a Freeport newspaper staff at the time. That was in April
Page 30 Voice of the Prairie
Mr. Boss, not wishing to have his enterprise connected in the public
mind with one that was headed for failure had it continued, promptly
changed the name of the TRANSCRIPT to the POLO ADVERTISER. This
publisher brought to the task considerable ability, management, and vis-
ion for it goes down in the history of Polo as the town's first successful
newspaper. Under the Boss management the ADVERTISER became mod-
erately prosperous, and assumed responsibilities of leadership which fell
more heavily upon the shoulders of newspaper editors, perhaps, in those
Mr. Boss continued publication of the ADVERTISER until November
of 1860 when he reliquished ownership, but not until he had published the
now famous as well as excessively rare pamphlet, "Sketches of Ogle Coun-
ty" in 1858. This was the first published history of Ogle county. It was the
work of E. S. Waterbury who wrote it for Mr. Boss. Since he lived in Polo
this community received the lion's share of his historical attention.
Prior to Mr. Boss's sale of the ADVERTISER to Col. Morton D. Swift
in November of 1860, the advent of a competing newspaper was chronicled
and is on record.
A Mt. Morris newspaper, the INDEPENDENT WATCHMAN, had
ceased publication in July of 1859 and its publisher, J. D. Dopf had moved
the printing plant to Polo. Here he established the ROCK RIVER PRESS.
Mr. Dopf's PRESS was established and began publication in the fall
of 1860. Mr. Dopf was a Republican partisan and undoubtedly was pub-
lishing in time to participate in the campaign of 1860 which sent Lincoln
to Washington. The ROCK RIVER PRESS was referred to in November of
1860 as having been "then recently started."
Mention must be made of the FREE DEMOCRAT even though it was
published purely as a partisan project and ceased publication at the close
of the campaign of 1860. It had no permanent status as a community
Another newspaper, the Ogle County BANNER, a Democratic news-
paper published by R. P. Redfield for a joint stock company, did have
community status. It was established April 14, 1858. Within two years it had
been purchased by Mr. Redfield who sold it to J. M. Williams who passed
it on to George D. Read. J. H. More, a friend of John Burroughs, the natura-
list, who taught at Buffalo Grove in 1856-7, was once editor of the Ogle
County BANNER which ceased publication in 1859.
John W. Clinton is recorded in state historical archives as having
owned a few copies of the BANNER. These, it is presumed, rest with his
other historical material in the vaults of the state historical library in
Let us now return to the ADVERTISER of Henry R. Boss to pick up
the "family tree" of Polo newspapers.
Col. Morton D. Swift purchased the ADVERTISER in November of
1860. Colonel Swift and J. D. Dopf soon merged the ADVERTISER and the
latter's ROCK RIVER PRESS. Dopf .withdrew in March of 1861. Swift en-
listed in April whereupon the ADVERTISER passed to J. D. Campbell and
James W. Carpenter, lawyers, who "issued the paper when they could get
Actually, the paper did not publish from August 1862 to March 11, 1863
because the publishers were forced to suspend for the reason that all of
their printers had volunteered for army service and they had no one to set
type which was all done by hand in those early days.
Mr. Carpenter, in the meantime, had died leaving Campbell alone in
publishing the ADVERTISER. In 1863 Swift returned home from his army
Voice of the Prairie Page 31
service and the paper was revived under the name of the POLO PRESS and
from that day to this, Polo has had a newspaper variously designated by
qualifying words as the PRESS.
The POLO PRESS was published by J. D. Campbell and the estate of
J. W. Carpenter with Mr. Campbell and Col. Morton D. Swift as editors,
after its revival.
It was thus that the POLO PRESS was continued until February of
1865 when it was sold to Daniel Scott and M. V. Saltzman. Scott soon sold
his interest to Colonel Swift, and Swift and Saltzman continued its pub-
lication until Aug. 4, 1865 when it was purchased by John W. Clinton, the
publisher and editor who made a state-wide reputation in the newspaper
Mr. Clinton changed the name of the paper to the OGLE COUNTY
PRESS in 1866. Until March 1876 the paper was printed on one of R. Hoe's
hand presses, in which year the old Hoe was discarded in favor of one of
C. Potter Jr.'s cylinder presses "fitted for steam power, which he hopes to
add to the office next winter."
The OGLE COUNTY PRESS under the aegis of Mr. Clinton attained
a much deserved reputation for its high principles. Mr. Clinton was the
eighth Illinois editor elected to the Illinois Editorial Hall of Fame, served
eighth Illinois editor elected to Illinois Editorial Hall of Fame and served
to the principles of the Republican party.
About 1868 J. C. Allaben was editing a paper called THE CHURCH.
It was published "as often as God furnished the means," but it was not cir-
culated very often. There is no information of record giving the date when
publication began or ended.
Another journalistic enterprise in Polo was the POULTRY ARGUS
which started publication in January of 1874. The early days of the ARGUS
were beset by problems such as are usual in the publishing business. These
were too much for the founders, Dr. C. H. Kenegy and Dr. M. L. Wolff who
sold out to Kenegy in June. By December of 1874 Dr. Kenegy had had e-
nough. He sold to D. D. L. Miller and John W. Clinton, the latter still pub-
lisher of the OGLE COUNTY PRESS.
Miller and Clinton published the POULTRY ARGUS until 1876 when
Mr. Clinton became the sole owner with Mr. Miller retained as editor.
The POULTRY ARGUS enjoyed a steady growth until it circulated in
nearly every state and territory of the Union, "diffusing a proper know-
ledge of our domestic fowls in many a farmer and villager's home, and cul-
tivating among its young readers a love for, and appreciation of, birds of
At first, the ARGUS was printed in a Freeport plant but later Mr.
Clinton brought it to Polo where it was printed in the plant of the OGLE
COUNTY PRESS until the spring of 1877 when it was sold. To whom it
was sold was not recorded.
A newspaper established in Polo on April 20, 1881 by G. W. Hawk
continued its lineage until' 1913. It was the POLO CLIPPER published un-
der that name twice a week, Wednesdays and Saturdays, until 1890.
In 1890 Frank J. Crawford who had been in the clothing business and
who had a reputation for being strongly community minded, purchased
the CLIPPER which he immediately changed to POLO SEMI-WEEKLY
VISITOR. Mr. Crawford published the VISITOR successfully until ill
health forced him to sell.
Soon after the turn of the century Mr. Crawford and his son, Earle
Crawford, were partners in the publishing of the CLIPPER. Earle re-
Page 32 Voice of the Prairie
mained as a partner for several years but finally answered the call of the
In December of 1907 Mr. Crawford, in frail health, called Earle back
to help in the publishing business. The paper was sold to U. S. Grant
Sweeney in January of 1908.
Available records do not reveal the length of Mr. Sweeney's tenure as
publisher of the SEMI-WEEKLY VISITOR, but the name of Stella Smith,
a sister of the late Mrs. A. J. Hersch, appeared as editor in the issue of
July 1, 1910. Many people of that day presumed that Stella Smith was only
"editor" of the VISITOR, and that A. T. Cowan, publisher of the TRI-
COUNTY PRESS was the real owner. The paper was published upstairs
over what is now Ports Hardware.
The SEMI-WEEKLY VISITOR ceased its existence as a newspaper
entity late in December of 1910 when Stella Smith, editor, who formerly
had been employed in the office of the TRI-COUNTY PRESS, changed its
name to the POLO WEEKLY BULLETIN. This name first appeared in the
masthead in the issue of Friday, Dec. 30, 1910.
In its turn, bending to the inevitability of newspaper economics in
those days, the WEEKLY BULLETIN ceased publication on Feb. 14, 1913,
when it was purchased by C. H. Hemingway the day before he purchased
the TRI-COUNTY PRESS from A. T. Cowan.
Let us now return once again to pick up the main current of Polo
journalism. John W. Clinton who had bought the POLO PRESS on Aug. 4,
1865, and changed its name to the OGLE COUNTY PRESS, continued its
publication for 36 long and successful years, successful financially and
editorially as well. But the years were piling up and in the early days of
the twentieth century he sold the paper he had nurtured and loved so many
vears to a progressive newspaperman, A. T. Cowan, of Milledgeville, who
was then publishing his newspaper, the TRI-COUNTY PRESS in that
Carroll county town.
Mr. Cowan purchased the OGLE COUNTY PRESS from John W.
Clinton on July 1, 1901. He brought along the name of his Milledgeville
paper and henceforth the OGLE COUNTY PRESS was known as the TRI-
COUNTY PRESS and so it has continued to the present day.
After publishing the TRI-COUNTY PRESS for nearly 12 years Mr.
Cowan sold it to the law trained C. H. Hemingway who took over publish-
ing Feb. 15, 1913. Under Mr. Hemingway the paper became independent
in politics but often leaned to the Republican Party.
In 1926 Mr. Hemingway felt the urge to move on which he felt at ease
to do since he had two newspapersmen in his employ eager to get into the
business. A mechanical superintendent, John J. Wagner, who had been a
partner of Mr. Hemingway on a previous occasion, joined with Mr. Hem-
ingway's editor, G. C. Terry, formerly editor of the Journal at Farmer
City, Illinois, in purchasing the TRI-COUNTY PRESS. The date was Aug-
ust 30, 1926, in the middle of the Roaring Twenties.
Mr. Wagner and Mr. Terry published the TRI-COUNTRY PRESS as
co-partners until Nov. 30, 1930, when Mr. Terry purchased Mr. Wagner's
interest and thus became sole owner of the paper and also of the Forres-
ton Journal which the partnership had purchased from Mrs. Susan Buck-
ley in April of 1927.
Proprietorship of the "main current" newspapers in Polo were usually
long, particularly after the first few years when it was becoming estab-
lished. From 1865 to the present day there have been only five owners in
a period of 92 years.
Voice of the Prairie Page 33
Longest is that of John W. Clinton, 1865-1901 and second is the pres-
ent publisher, 1926 — to the present, a span of 31 years. Since January of
1955, Danny C. Terry, son of the present publisher, has been editor-manager
of the TRI-COUNTY PRESS.
Newspapers look to the future as do individuals and the TRI-COUNTY
PRESS looks forward to many years of service to the community as a mir-
ror to record the life and times of the people of its area.
Those who have gone before were characterized by a forward-looking,
positive philosophy. Whereas city newspapermen and newspapers deal
largely with events and policies those in small towns such as Polo, deal
chiefly with people. They chronicle the comings and goings of everyday
folks who are the foundation of our national citizenship heritage; they tell
of births and deaths; the schooling of the community's children, their hon-
ors and achievements, their graduations; their wedding days and families
and anniversaries as the years flit by. They deal with the history of people
at the foundation level of our society.
Upon this basis Polo newspapers always have been journals of the
Polo Industries— Past and Present
The first factory in Polo was a steam planing mill for sash, doors, and
blinds. This was started in 1858 by Messers. Goodwillie, Cairns and Jim-
merson at a cost of $4,000. It was in operation a portion of the time for a
number of years. Also in 1858 F. O. Wilder commenced the manufacture of
melodeons but the enterprise was abandoned a year later. In 1856 a grist
mill was built on the west side of the I. C. R. R. on Colden Street. The build-
ing later was used as a warehouse for McGrath Lumber Co. It was razed
In 1868 Wm. Illingsworth erected a flouring-mill at a cost of $1,800
which was subsequently purchased by the Black Bros, and proved to be a
profitable enterprise and of great convenience to the surrounding com-
In 1874, the Polo Manufacturing Co. was organized with a capital of
$25,000 for the purpose of making "King Funk Harvesters." Both L. King
and H. M. Funk who invented the harvesters were Polo citizens. Its large
and commodious factory built next to the railroad on the south side of Or-
egon Street still stands, but the Harvester Company existed only about ten
years. The articles of incorporation are still in the hands of a Polo citizen
and it is interesting to read the names of those who bought stock in this
company and the amounts each paid. Since the Polo Manufacturing Co.
went out of existence the larger building on Oregon Street has housed a
number of enterprises, some successful and others not. Among those were
the Fahrney Cart Factory, a stove factory, a chicken hatchery, and the
most successful of any, a dress factory. It is presently used as an annex to
the Central Stamping and Mfg. Co., one of Polo's present factories of which
there are three. Mr. Arthur Eichholz is president of the Central Stamping
and Mfg. Co., located on South Division Street. It makes a number of metal
appliances for house, garden and office.
Mr. J. R. Darrow is owner and president of Darrow Company that
makes Prefabricated Houses.
The Industrial Mfg. and Eng. Co., purchased the Old Hemp Mill in 1950.
Production evolves around the use of pipe, steel, and copper tubing, from
which cooling and heating coils, units, evaporative condenser and extended
surface material are built. In 1956 the name was changed to IMECO, Inc.
Voice of the Prairie
This was the Buffalo Free Public Library and had been an unused law
office located in the same spot as our present library.
The first Polo library was started in 1870 by Miss Franc Barber who
began work while a teacher in the public school at Polo. Polo had a public
library before Chicago had one; in fact, the Polo library was the first li-
brary west of Indiana. Miss Barber suffered cold and janitor hardships
while pioneering in her library work.
J. H. Freeman was instrumental in starting the library. He talked to
everyone he knew about a library and as a consequence a meeting was
called in the old Town Hall. Eleven people contributed $100 each and at
a second meeting May 12, 1871, trustees were elected and the name "Polo
Library Association" was selected. The trustees discovered John Weller
wished to dispose of his law office which stood on the corner of Mason
and Congress streets. They decided it was conveniently located - one block
from the public school, on the main street, and yet far enough away to in-
sure quiet. Also the cost of refitting it would be slight.
Furnishings consisted of a chunk stove, three bracket lamps and a
smaller one for the librarian's desk, the desk, and a reading lamp, with a
dozen strong wood-bottom chairs. The chairs were donated by Mr. Wool-
hiser, the funiture man.
As Miss Barber, the librarian, was teaching school in the daytime, W.
W. Pierce offered to help with the cataloguing and pasting rules in the
books at night, preparing them for public use.
Voice of the Prairie Page 35
The rooms were opened to the public in December of 1871. The people
were asked to contribute books and the housewives gladly cooperated, only
too glad to get rid of old books. Patent books and out-of-date school books
made up the majority of the contributions, but they counted as books and
helped fill up the shelves.
There were no play grounds or movies in those days; no places for
youth to congregate. As soon as the lamps were lighted the chairs were
filled with eager young readers that would stay as long as the librarian
By the payment of $5 one could become a member and could draw
books, subject to the rules. This enabled a member to take books home
with him. Members could pay 50c a quarter in advance; non-members $1
per quarter in advance, or ten cents a week. This required the librarian
to keep a journal and a day book.
For the reading table Mr. Clinton furnished a copy of the POLO PRESS
and solicited copies of other county newspapers. The Polo library had the
first open shelves; that is, where people could select books from the shelves
rather than from catalogues.
The books, of course, became very soiled, as they were not always
handled with clean hands. Therefore, it became the duty of the librarian
to make covers for the books from strong dark blue paper. The librarian
had many duties. She had to haul the wood for the stove, the kerosene for
the lamps, wash the windows and keep the place neat and clean. She also
had to mend all books and even sterilize books that had been handled by
anyone with measles or scarlet fever.
One time a gentleman passing through giving temperance lectures,
asked if he might sleep in one of the rooms upstairs. He was permitted to
do so until the librarian noticed empty bottles being dropped past her win-
dow. It seems he had been drinking his exhibits. The gentleman was asked
to leave "post-haste"!
One winter, funds were so low Miss Barber purchased fuel from her
own funds and took in enough from "fines" to buy kerosene for the lamps.
On April 21, 1891 transfer was made by the trustees giving the library
to the town, thus enabling it to be supported by taxes. The new board of
directors: Alvin Joiner, J. H. More, J. L. Moore, E. D. Woolsey, L. F. Tho-
mas and George Murray, made many changes. A hard coal stove was pur-
chased and the larger room carpeted. It then became the "Buffalo Free
When the Carnegie gift came, in approximately 1904, the new build-
ing was erected in the same place our first library stood. It is still official-
ly "Buffalo Township Free Public Library."
From 1860 to 1865 a grocery store operated on Bracken's corner. In
1865 after the death of the owner, H. N. Murray, W. H. Cunningham and
John Bingaman bought the store and operated it for 19 years. In 1884 Cun-
ningham bought out Bingaman and ran the business alone. When the Ma-
sonic Building was erected in 1919-20 four buildings were torn down. There
were three old frame buildings with narrow fronts facing Mason Street
and one three-story stone building standing where the Tri-County Press
now stands. Next to the Cunningham grocery was a two-story frame build-
ing and for many years it was occupied by feed stores. The third frame
building, also two-story, housed the Schell Monument works. There was
also a pool hall run by Jess James.
Page 36 Voice of the Prairie
Polo Whiskey Raid 1856
(This is an account written by Maria Waterbury for the Polo Historical
Society in 1904)
Early, it was before breakfast, a couple of young men who called
themselves Knights of the Gimlet made their appearance at the Samuel
Waterbury home in South Polo, where Mrs. Elizabeth Waterbury, (mother
of the writer) was preparing breakfast, and reported thus: "all night we
have been near the Depot of the I.C.R.R. boring into casks filled with
whiskey; there are two casks not yet emptied, and daylight is upon us;
can you think of some way to finish up the job?" said a young man of about
seventeen, full of enthusiasm as to how to get the stuff into the gutter.
The writer had just made her appearance, in dressing gown and slip-
pers, a new pair, ready to help mother, but she, instead of needing help
for that breakfast, was saying "go now, and get some to go with you and
get an ax, and when you strike, use the head of the ax and strike in the
same place, close to the chime. I've opened many a barrel of pork that way."
Without waiting to change dress, the writer started, and after fifty years
have passed, she remembers saying, "My Kingdom for an ax!"
The first two ladies she called on were ready the minute they put
on their hats, and the next and next, and as we went toward the Depot,
there were, I think, about thirty women walking two by two on those
narrow plank sidewalks, dressed, for the most part, in the peculiar morn-
ing gown and slippers worn then as it was before breakfast and no one
stopped for anything, only to snatch up the nearest hat or sunbonnet. The
work demanded haste as every moment we expected the owner of the
whiskey to make his appearance but thought he must have overslept that
morning as he never came near until the cargo of whiskey was spilled.
The clerks who had opened the stores ready for business and many
others came to see what was going on and soon the back ground was filled
with spectators; there were two or three hundred men and boys - the
writer cannot now tell many of the names. Mrs. Zenas Aplington was close
at her elbow and wondered where we'd get an ax. Walter Pierce stood
quite near and Mr. Daniel Buck came near enough to say, "if you want an
ax there's a new one in the South room of the Depot."
Of course it didn't take long to get the ax, but by this time some had
to "screw" their courage to the sticking point - as numbers of the women
wouldn't touch the ax though when the tall girl began to strike, according
to Mother's directions, some would say "that's it, hit it again!"
The railroad employees stood in a little huddle by themselves; no one
of them stirred to prevent the whiskey spilling. To the right of us were a
few lovers of drink who hated to see the stuff wasted but over went the
first cask which was about two-thirds full; the second was a full cask,
that would hold several barrels. It took quite awhile to whack in the head
of it but it was done, and two or three women pushed it over the whiskey
flying up in our faces and filling our slippers and slopping on our morning
dresses until we looked, as someone expressed it, as though we'd been to
a log rolling.
Old Mr. H. soon made his appearance with a jug and tin cup and be-
gan dipping it off the ground into his jug but think he didn't save much
as the dirt, and gravel around the railroad spoiled the stuff for drinking.
The ground was saturated with it.
Many were the threats of punishment by law, and the writer was
called Whiskeybury for several years, and waited, ready for trial and jail,
but after the case was called up at court it was adjourned, from time to
Voice of the Prairie Page 37
time, for over a year, and when it finally had a hearing the agent at the
Depot testified that the barrels had been delivered to the grocer who own-
ed them, and the case was dismissed.
As public sentiment was so strong against its sale in the new town of
Polo, no grocer could stand the boycotting he would get if he were even
suspected of selling liquors.
After the upsetting we marched two by two towards our homes singing
"We're all Washingtonians; we're all Washingtonians, and we'll sound it
through the land."
Peaceably we went to our several places of abode but temperance
sentiment filled the very atmosphere. Mother had a hot breakfast waiting
when the writer got home, but Father with his Bible in hand, was ready
for family prayers, and his talk was better than preaching, about doing
as we would be done by to the man with the drunkards' appetite saying,
as the whiskey was a nuisance, we must treat it as such, and as we would
all go out to exterminate a mad dog so now we must keep whiskey out of
this new town or God would hold us accountable for it.
One year only was their license and the money was used to repair
sidewalks and when Father came to a broken place in the walk, he would
say, "the town officers had better stick a drunkard in here." The Rev. Mr.
Wm. Todd was the minister who preached in Mosher's Hall for the Pres-
byterians - he had been ten years a missionary in India - his preaching
places were Grand Detour and Polo. When the whiskey raid was going on,
he was at Grand Detour; on his return he said "If I had been here I should
have gone with you to help," he preached double-distilled temperance
sermons often. The whiskey after "the raid" was kept out by eternal
The early settlers in Buffalo Grove took a strong anti-slavery position.
From 1842 until 1860, Buffalo Grove and Polo were stations on, and active-
ly connected with, the Illinois branch of the "Great Underground Rail-
road," extending from all parts of the slave states to the Canadian fron-
tier. Abolitionists traveled in the night concealing their passengers in the
bottoms of their wagons, under straw or buffalo robes. They received their
passengers from Sugar Grove in Lee County and delivered them to Byron
to a minister. By 1856-57 they ran their trains in the daylight, the threat of
discovery was so small. The man responsible for the participation of area
people in the underground railroad was Judge Bogue of Buffalo Grove.
There were six blacksmith shops - Saltzman, Henry Guyer, W T m. Bark-
man and Bill Cooper. It was a very important industry at one time. J. P.
Miller had a blacksmith shop in connection with his buggy shop. Clinton
Helm had a shop where the Dr. Homer Curtis house now stands. Helm
locked up his shop and went to war and never came back. There was also
a shop run by Arbogast where Nathan Mount Plumbing establishment is
Public sale of town lots was made in May 1853. Prior to this date, in
1844, the area west of the I. C. tracks to Franklin Street and south to Ore-
gon Street was purchased by Charles Kellogg from the school commission-
er of Ogle County for $800. In March of 1853 this last land was laid out
into town lots surveyed by C. W. Joiner.
Page 38 Voice of the Prairie
THEY CALL POLO HOME
MAX ALLABEN— was born in Polo in 1898. He was educated in the Polo
Schools. Mr. Allaben was a circuit judge in the Wheaton, Illinois cir-
cuit for many years. He passed away in 1950.
CHARLES AMES— was born in Polo, June, 1924, the son of Daniel F. and
Ruth Wright Ames. He married Joyce Eickorn and has one son and
one daughter. Mr. Ames received his Masters Degree in business
administration at Harvard. He now holds an executive position with
an Eastern telephone corporation in New York City.
MAJOR ZENAS APLINGTON— was born in the state of New York in 1815
and in 1837 migrated to Buffalo Grove. He became the founder of
Polo. In 1858 he was elected to the State Senate where he served two
terms. He was killed at Corinth, Miss., in 1862 while obeying an or-
der to charge upon a band of rebels concealed in a wood.
BRYANT BARBER— was born in Polo in 1856, the son of Chanceford and
Lucie Eager Barber. He worked with his father and his brother in
the Barber banks. He was reported to have committed suicide in 1917
by jumping in the river at Grand Detour.
CHANCEFORD BARBER— was born Oct. 2, 1818 in Vermont. He passed
away in Polo in 1879. Mr. Barber first engaged in the mercantile
business with his brother Lemuel at Buffalo Grove. He married Lucie
Eager and they had two sons. He was engaged in the first banking in
HOWARD BEARD— was born in Polo, March 29, 1889, the son of Leslie A.
and Sarah Francis Strickler Beard. He married Velma Kimbley af-
ter his graduation from Polo schools and Carthage College. At the
present he is superintendent of the Porterville schools in California.
DR. RICHARD BENTLEY— was born April 7, 1920, son of Everette E. and
Helen Buck Bentley. He married Marjorie Tullis and has one son.
Dr. Bentley is a member of the Phi Mu Alph, (honorary music fra-
ternity), served in the U. S. Army in World War II, was music sup-
ervisor in South Dakota in 1947-50, Asst. Professor of Music at South-
western College, Winfield, Kans., in 1954-55, and is presently vocal
director at Napa Union High School and Jr. High School in Napa,
California. He has contributed to the magazine "The Instrumentalist"
and was listed in "Who's Who in American Education" in 1955-56.
GEORGE C. BODDIGER— was born in Polo in 1917, son of George E. and
Bertha Billig Boddiger. Attended Polo schools and is married and
has three daughters. At present he is vice-president of the United
Benefit Life Ins. Co., of Omaha, Nebraska.
JUDGE ROBERT L. BRACKEN— was born in Polo in 1885, the son of
James and Allie Doorley Bracken. He married Lillie Lawrence and
has two daughters. Judge Bracken went through Polo schools and
graduated from Notre Dame in 1906. He was captain of the football
team under Knute Rockne. He practiced law in Polo a number of
years and then moved to Dixon, Illinois. He is presently circuit judge
of the 15th judicial circuit.
DR. WM. W. BURNS— was born May 10, 1821 in Pennsylvania. He married
Hariet Moffatt and they had one son and one daughter. He opened
an office in Buffalo Grove in 1848, later moving to Polo and build-
ing one of the first permanent homes on Barber street. Dr. Burns
was mayor of Polo for three years and was president of the Board
of Town Trustees for two years.
Voice of the Prairie Page 39
JOHN BURROUGHS, 1827-1918— was born in Roxbury, Delaware County,
New York. After leaving Cooperstown, N. Y. Seminary, he came west
to teach the 1856-57 term at the Buffalo Grove school. It was during
his stay in Polo that he first appeared in print with an essay, "Rev-
olution." After his return to New York he began writing. In 1862 he
began writing about nature, a vocation that was to bring him world
wide fame as a naturalist. He was the author of about 25 volumes on
nature subjects and was listed for many years in Who's Who.
CAPT. CECIL BYRD— was born Aug. 23, 1922 in Polo, son of Ernest and
Reba Clark Byrd. He was educated in Polo schools and married La-
Verne Becker of Dixon. He has one son and one daughter. He was
a P-51 fighter pilot in World War II and collected the Distinguished
Flying Cross with five battle stars and the Air Medal with six oak
leaf clusters. He is presently stationed in Germany with the Air
Force as a jet pilot.
MAJOR KENNETH BYRD— was born June 6, 1920 in Polo, son of Ernest
and Reba Clark Byrd. He married Opal Shutt and they have one
daughter. During World War II he flew the "hump" in Burma and
received the Air Medal, Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Presi-
dential Citation and one battle star. He was also a cargo pilot and
troop transport pilot during the Korean conflict. He is presently
serving the Intelligence Department of the Air Corps in French Mor-
JOHN D. CAMPBELL— was born July 21, 1830 in the state of New York.
First working as a school teacher and then as an attorney he set-
tled here in Polo in 1855. He married Mary Elizabeth Cutts and they
had two daughters. He was supervisor, town clerk, and the first
mayor of Polo. He was also editor and proprietor of the Polo Press
from 1861 to 1865. In 1872 he was elected States Attorney for Ogle Co.
GEORGE PERKINS CLINTON— was born May 7, 1867; earned his bache-
lor of science degree in botany at the University of Illinois, his mas-
ter of science and his doctor of science degrees at Harvard Universi-
ty. From 1915 to 1927 he was lecturer in forest pathology at Yale
University. In 1906-7 he was sent to Japan to seek a parasite of the
gypsy moth. He was a specialist in plant diseases, made many trips
to all parts of the world. His herbarium collected over a period of 50
years was presented after his death to the Connecticut Experiment
Station. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
DR. PAUL CLOPPER— was born in Polo, son of Edward and Nettie Wads-
worth Clopper. He was educated in the Polo schools and continued
at Northwestern. At present he is in Peoria serving as secretary of
the Illinois Dental Association. He married Emma Fay and has one
daughter and two sons.
LT. KEITH COFFMAN— was born in Polo, April 14, 1926, son of Carl and
Hazel Jones Coffman. He was educated in the Polo schools. Lt. Coff-
man married Joan Gooch and has one daughter. He served in Ger-
many during World War II. He is presently at Vance Air Base serv-
ing as a B-25 flight instructor.
DONALD DISSINGER— was born Feb. 16, 1912, son of Harry and Elsie
Winebrenner Dissinger. He was educated in Polo schools, Northern
Illinois, and Monominee, Wise. He married Nedra Akins and has one
son and one daughter. He served as a Lieutenant in the Navy during
World War II in the South Pacific. He is presently acting as princi-
pal in the Junior high school in Manistique, Michigan.
Page 40 Voice of the Prairie
DR. CLYDE DRENNAN— was born in 1908 in Sullivan, Indiana, son of Roy
and Martha Garr Drennan. He attended Central Y.M.C.A. College in
Chicago, Northwestern Medical College and interned at the Evanston
Hospital. He married Winona Mallory and they have one son. He
served in World War II as a Major with the 92nd Field Hospital. He
was awarded the Bronze Star. He came to Polo in 1939 and has served
this area as a physician since that date.
DR. W. L. EIKENBERRY— was born July 12, 1871, son of William E. and
Susan Berkley Eikenberry. He received his education in Mt. Morris,
the University of Michigan, and the University of Chicago. He was
Professor of Science at the University of Kansas, Pennsylvania State
Normal School, and the New Jersey State Teachers College. He mar-
ried Florence Shaw of Polo in 1903 and they had one son. Dr. Eiken-
berry has been honored with the second science Recognition Award
by the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. He has
been in "Who's Who in America" every year since he was on the fac-
ulty at Pennsylvania State Teachers College and he has been in "A-
merican Men of Science," and "Who's Who in Education." He is Polo's
only resident to be thus honored.
DR. EDITH EYKAMP— was born Aug. 11, 1896 in Polo, daughter of George
and Galathea Jannsen Eykamp. She was educated in the Polo schools
continuing her education at Carthage College, the University of Chi-
cago and the University of Illinois. She spent 31 years in the mission
field, mostly in India under the auspices of the Lutheran Church. In
1948 she was awarded the "Kaiser-I-Hind" medal by the British
Government for the most outstanding work in her field. At present
she is living in Rockford, Illinois, doing lecture work on the needs
of her mission.
MAJOR THEODORE FOLK— was born in Polo December 8, 1916, son of
Lloyd E. and Madge Elms Folk. He was educated in the Polo schools.
He married Jane Thomas and they have two sons and one daughter.
He was with the 8th Air Force in England during World War II
and with the 87th Airborne Division of the Signal Corps. He is pres-
ently at the Air University of Montgomery, Alabama on the curricu-
DR. MARK GETZENDENNER— was born in Polo August 20, 1892, son of
Milton E. and Arabelle Thomas Getzendenner. In 1917 he married
Catherine Cramer and they had two sons and one daughter. He was
ordained a Lutheran minister in 1917. Dr. Getzendenner was edu-
cated in the Polo schools and continued his education at Carthage
College and at Gettysburg Seminary of which he is an alumnus.
JOHN GIBBS— was born in Polo, Aug. 16, 1882, son of Mr. and Mrs. George
G. Gibbs. Mr. Gibbs had a rare talent for music and studied the violin
in Berlin under the best German Masters. His career ended abruptly
when he passed away from tuberculosis at the age of twenty-seven.
DR. LEAVITT M. GRIFFIN— was born in Polo in 1883, son of Leander and
Mark Hawks Griffin. He married Eleanor Eakin and they had one
daughter. He practiced medicine in Polo for many years and took
great pride in his home city. He served as mayor of Polo for one term.
Dr. Griffin passed away March 20, 1946.
HELEN ZICK GUTHRIE— was born in 1904, daughter of Fred and Ger-
trude Sanborn Zick. She was educated in the Polo schools and has
been an English teacher since 1929. At present she is the principal
of Edison Junior High School in Pekin, Illinois.
Voice of the Prairie Page 41
CECILE L. HAMILTON— was born Jan. 27, 1915, daughter of Arch M. and
Louise Woolber Hamilton. At the age of nineteen she was the first
American woman to gain a British pilot license. She raced in the
Chatterton Air Derby in 1935 and ended in third place. She received
national comments about this flight and another made in 1936. She
then became associate aviation editor of the New York Herald Tri-
bune. For the past four years she has been managing editor of FLY-
ING magazine and now lives in New York.
REV. CLARENCE E. HECKMAN— was born in Polo, November 1897, son
of Rev. John and Hattie Price Heckman. He married Lucille Gib-
son. He was ordained in the Brethren Ministry. He has served the
Church of the Brethren Mission in British Nigeria, Africa, for 33
REV. JOHN HECKMAN— was born in Bond County, Illinois, June 24, 1863.
He was the son of Rev. John Heckman and Lavina Moyers Heckman.
They both passed away before Rev. Heckman was four years old.
Rev. Heckman graduated from Mt. Morris College in 1883 and taught
school. He married Hattie Price and four children were born to that
union. He was ordained in 1891 in the Church of the Brethren. He
served the Pine Creek and Polo Churches in the "Free Ministry" for
sixteen years, then as full time pastor of the Polo Church for six
years, and as presiding elder for twenty-seven years. Served as
trustee of Mt. Morris College for twenty-nine years and as Field So-
licitor for ten years. He is actively pursuing the history of Polo at
present and is living in this vicinity. He served Buffalo Township
for thirteen years as tax assessor.
REV. T. B. HERSCH— was born May 31, 1871, son of Thomas and Amelia
Blanck Hersch. He married Alice Newcomer. They have one son and
one daughter. He served the United Lutheran churches in Ohio and
Illinois for fifty-three years. He is presently retired and lives in Ev-
DR. HOUSTON— was born May 28, 1857. He married Elizabeth Glanville.
His parents were Mr. and Mrs. James H. Houston. Dr. Houston prac-
ticed medicine in Polo for many years.
REV. WM. R. JOHNSON— was born in 1878, son of Benjamin R. and Sarah
Esther Miller Johnson. He married Ina Buswell in 1906 and they
have four sons and one daughter. He received his higher education
at Northwestern University Union Theological School, and Columbia
University. For 36 years he was a Methodist missionary and war re-
lief worker in China. For ten years he was the principal of Nanchang
Academy. Presently he is retired, living in Polo.
CHARLES W. JOINER— was born in Vermont Dec. 8, 1816, son of Alvin and
Hannah Van Wagner Joiner. He came to Buffalo Grove in 1837. In
1839 he married Harriet Waterbury. They had one son and one
daughter. Mr. Joiner was County Surveyor of Ogle County from
1851 to 1854. He surveyed and laid out the original plat for Polo.
DR. LOUISE KEATOR— was born in Polo, Aug. 15, 1873, daughter of Jos-
eph and Sarah Ann Mosher Keator. Dr. Keator spent 17 years as a
medical missionary in China where she operated her own hospital.
She is a graduate of Northwestern University Medical School and
presently is living in the Old Mosher hall on N. Division street here
Page 42 Voice of the Prairie
REV. CHARLES LINDEMANN— was born in Dec. 1881 in Mendota, 111.,
son of Alexander and Carolina Brockmeier Lindemann. In 1902 he
married Alice R. Ripley. Before he became a minister he was a home
missionary in Farmington, N. Mexico among the Indians. He was
educated in Mt. Carroll schools and at Garrett Biblical Institute. At
present he is retired and living in Corning, California but still con-
nected with the California Methodist Conference.
SENATOR CHARLES "PAT" LONERGAN— was born June 1880 in Polo,
son of John S. and Mary Lynch Lonergan. He married Hilda Fish in
1909 and they have four daughters and two sons. He was educated
in the Polo schools and is a graduate of the University of Illinois. He
was elected state senator of Oregon in 1950. Presently resides in
JUDGE FRANK LONERGAN— was born in 1882, son of John S. and Mary
Lynch Lonergan. He attended Polo schools and is a graduate of Notre
Dame Law School. He was elected Circuit Judge in Portland, Ore-
gon in 1946. He married Jean James. A few years ago was Grand
Exalted Ruler of the Elks. Judge Lonergan presently resides in Port-
FATHER JOSEPH LONERGAN— was born May 14, 1884, son of John S.
and May Lynch Lonergan. He attended Polo schools and is a grad-
uate of St. Viator College. He was ordained as a priest in 1909. Father
Lonergan served as a chaplain during World War I, and is a retired
Colonel in the Army Reserve. He is past National Chaplain of the
American Legion. At present he is Chaplain of St. Joseph hospital
in Aurora, Illinois. He is familiarly known as "Father Joe."
BINKLEY MADES— was born in Polo, March 1, 1914, son of Robert and
Bess Binkley Mades. He attended Polo schools and received his mas-
ters degree at Northwestern. He married Jane Lenox and they have
one son and one daughter. He is presently superintendent of Kane
J. LOY MALONEY— was born in November 1891 near Mt. Carroll, Illinois,
the son of J. Sumner and Elizabeth Tressler Maloney. He attended
Polo schools. Mr. Maloney served as 1st. Lieutenant in World War I
with Captain Eddie Rickenbacker's 94th Air Squadron. He was a re-
porter on the Chicago Tribune until 1925, worked as day editor in
1936, and became city editor in 1937, then managing editor. He mar-
ried Hilda Blackburn and they have two daughters. At present Mr.
Maloney is retired and lives at Flossmoor, Illinois.
FATHER JOHN McGRATH— was born May 29, 1916 near Polo, son of
George L. and May Lonergan McGrath. He was graduated from the
Sterling schools, St. Ambrose College and Kenrick Seminary, St.
Louis, Mo. Father McGrath was ordained to priesthood in 1942. At
present he is vice-principal of St. Ambrose Academy at Davenport,
Iowa, where he also serves as instructor of mathematics and coach of
DR. LEE ROY McDANIEL— was born May 20, 1900, son of William K.
and Pearl White McDaniels. He attended the University of Illinois
and interned and was the house physician at Grant Hospital in Chi-
cago. He married Helen Ainsworth and has two sons. Dr. McDaniel
came to Polo in July 1931 and took over the practice of Dr. McPher-
Voice of the Prairie Page 43
REV. HAROLD WM. McILNAY— was born in Polo Aug. 13, 1899, son of
John and Amy Slater Mcllnay. He was married to Helen Brooks of
Boston and they have one son, also an ordained minister. Rev. Mc-
llnay presently lives in Buffalo, New York and is district superin-
tendent of the Buffalo District of the Methodist Church.
J. A. McILNAY — was born in Polo, son of Jessie and Minnie Shepley Mc-
llnay. He married Pearl Powell and has twin sons. He was educated
in the Polo schools. At present he is living in Madison, Wisconsin
and is vice-president of the Ray-O-Vac Co., one of the world's larg-
est producers of dry cell batteries.
MAJOR GENERAL OLIN F. McILNAY— was born Feb. 28, 1902 in Polo,
son of John and Amy Slater Mcllnay. He married Alba Guyer and
has one daughter. The doctor-airman is Polo's first general. He is
presently based in Washington, D. C. and is Surgeon General of the
DR. CHARLES WALTER McPHERSON— was born near Polo, son of Dr.
Mason and Mary Shoemaker McPherson. He married Lydia Zendt
and they have two sons. Dr. McPherson was a very prominent phys-
ician in Polo for many years. He passed away June 7, 1931.
JOHN P. MILLER— was born in Germany in 1832. He moved to Polo in
1852 and married Otillia Soebel in 1872. They had one daughter and
three sons. Mr. Miller successfully carried on the business of wagon
and buggy maker in Polo. He passed away March 7, 1919.
DR. PAUL MILLER— was born in Polo, son of Mr. and Mrs. O. E. Miller.
He is married and has one daughter. A physician, he is presently
practicing in Chicago.
DR. J. H. MORE— was born in the state of New York in 1829, son of John
B. and Louisa Kelly More. He married Harriett Elizabeth Frisbee and
they had one son and four daughters. A medical doctor, he was la-
ter ordained a minister in the Methodist Church. He served as a
Chaplain in the Civil War. Dr. More died in April of 1922.
ANNA PARMALEE— was born Jan. 30, 1857 in Milledgeville, Illinois, the
daughter of Henry and Mary Parmalee. They moved to Polo in 1859
and built the home on N. Congress Street where she passed away.
She was a high school teacher and a college instructor. She died Oct.
10, 1954 at the age of ninety-seven.
CAPT. DWIGHT PIERCE— was born in Polo, Feb. 13, 1922, son of Lemuel
and Susie Cable Pierce. He married Jean Coakley and they have one
daughter. He was a B-26 pilot in World War II receiving the Air
Medal with four oakleaf clusters. At present he is in Topeka, Kansas
with the "Strategic Air Command."
INA AGNES POOLE— was born April 8, 1892, daughter of Mr. and Mrs.
Frank Poole. She taught at the Steward School west of Polo and
later taught English in the Elizabeth, Illinois high school. She wrote
for children's magazines and church periodicals. Miss Poole passed
away July 7, 1950.
EDMUND J. RALEY— was born Jan. 20, 1929 in Thompsonville, Illinois,
the son of Luther and Lillian Mitchell Raley. He married Marge Ka-
lips and they have two sons. He attended Polo schools and Normal
University. Mr. Raley served in the Air Force for four years. He is
presently principal of the Junior High School in Manito, Illinois.
Page 44 Voice of the Prairie
WAYNE W. RALEY— was born June 28, 1927 in Thompsonville, Illinois,
son of Luther and Lillian Mitchell Raley. He married Elizabeth Hees-
chen and they have three daughters. Mr. Raley attended Polo schools
and Normal University. He served in the Navy during World War II.
He is presently principal of the grade school in Knoxville, Illinois.
MAYNARD SCHELL— was born Sept. 6, 1897 in Polo, son of Eugene and
Emma Marr Schell. He married Elva Hill. Mr. Schell was educated in
the Polo schools. He has been superintendent of schools in Washing-
ton, Iowa and presently in Clinton, Iowa.
BERNADINE MESSER SNOOK M. T.— was born July 29, 1930, daughter
of Jarvis and Naomi Esterly Messer. She was educated in Polo schools
and Alabama State College and the Germantown Hospital in Phil-
adelphia. She married William Snook. She is presently in charge of
Fairfax Clinic in Arlington, Va. She is a registered technologist in
REV. HENRY M. SPICKLER— was born near Polo, Oct. 20, 1867, son of
Calvin B. and Ellen Newcomer Spickler. He was an ordained min-
ister of the Baptist Church. While at the University of Chicago, he
played football under one of football's most illustrious coaches, Alon-
zo Stagg. In the 1900's he made a trip around the world by bicycle
and visited the Holy Land. He wrote a book following this trip
"Around the World Without a Cent." He lectured extensively
throughout the mid-west. Rev. Spickler passed away Jan. 8, 1955.
REEVE STROCK— was born in Polo July 5, 1900, son of Allie and Ida
Kauffman Strock. He was educated in the Polo schools. He married
Catherine Barnhizer and they had one daughter and one son. Mr.
Strock was an engineer with Westrex Co. and served as recording
manager and sound director. He presently is retired and lives in Hen-
dersonville, North Carolina.
DR. PATRICIA STUFF— was born in Polo May 11, 1929, daughter of Ralph
and Marjorie Cashman Stuff. She attended Polo schools and is a
graduate of the University of Denver, and the Women's Medical Col-
lege in Philadelphia. She interned at St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago
and is now resident doctor of the Yankton Clinic, Yankton, South
REV. MAYNARD STULL— was born near Polo Dec. 4, 1901, son of E. L.
and Alice Holly Stull. He married Shirley Canedy and they have
one son and one daughter. He is a graduate of Carthage College and
Wittenberg Seminary. He is presently serving the Lutheran Church
at Springfield, Ohio.
SARAH HACKETT STEVENSON— was born at Buffalo Grove on Feb. 2,
1840. In 1863 she married John D. Stevenson and they had nine chil-
dren. She started her professional career as a teacher and then be-
came one of the first women to study medicine. She was the first
woman to become a member of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Stevenson passed away Aug. 12, 1909.
BELLE CLOTHIER SWEENEY— was born in Polo, May 26, 1901, daugh-
ter of William F. and Adell Hawes Clothier. She married Dr. Wm.
Sweeney and they had one daughter. She was educated in the Polo
schools. This accomplished artist belongs to the Chicago Society of
Artists in Oak Park and River Forest. She was also a Red Cross
nurse in World War I.
Voice of the Prairie Page 45
ROSETTA LUNT SUTTON— was born in Buffalo Grove in 1839. She was
educated at Frisbee's Rock River Normal School at Old Buffalo and
later at Mt. Morris Seminary. She married a young lawyer named
Sutton and moved to Spokane, Oregon. She published poetry
throughout her lifetime. She passed away in 1899.
DR. LEON A. SWEET— was born in Polo May 17, 1909, son of Albert and
Bertha Reed Sweet. He married Euvon Hyndman and they have one
son and one daughter. He attended Polo schools and graduated with
the class of 1899. Dr. Sweet is an active member of the American
Chemical Society; American Pharmaceutical Association; New York
Academy of Sciences; Society of Chemistry and Industry (Great
Britain); American Association for the Advancement of Science; the
Detroit Physiological Society; Engineering Society of Detroit; Phi
Lambda Upsilon and Sigma Xi. At present he is vice president of
Parke, Davis, and Company.
COL. MORTON SWIFT— was born June 24, 1833 in the state of New York.
He married Hattie Aplington, daughter of Major Zenas Aplington.
He taught school and then became an attorney with Campbell and
Carpenter in 1860. He purchased the Polo Advertiser in 1860 and
operated it until 1865.
REV. ALBION TAVENNER— was born August 1898 in Polo, son of John
and L. Tereesa Mund Tavenner. He married Mildred Gale and they
have one son and one daughter. Graduate of the Polo schools, Cor-
nell, Boston University of Theology and Garrett Biblical College.
During W T orld War I he served in the Army. He is presently serving
the Epworth Methodist Church in Elgin.
DR. JOHN LYLE TAVENNER— was born Dec. 10, 1903 in Polo, son of
John and L. Tereesa Mund Tavenner. He married Helen Braun and
they have two daughters. Dr. Tavenner is a graduate of Polo high
school, NorthWestern University, and Cornell College. He served in
World War II in the South Pacific as a Major in the Medical Corps.
He is now practicing medicine in Dixon.
DR. EDWARD SMITH THOMAS— was born in Polo Oct. 7, 1878, son of
Louis F. and Alca Smith Thomas. He began his dental practice in
Polo in 1902 and retired recently after 52 years of service in the
DR. PAUL TRUMP— was born in Polo in June 1906, son of Andrew and
Almira Kriebel Trump. He married Elva Lyons and they have two
boys and one girl. He graduated from Polo high school. Cornell Col-
lege, Iowa University, and Wisconsin University. At present he is
professor in the education department at the University of Wisconsin.
DR. DONALD M. TYPER— was born in Polo Sept. 15, 1905, son of William
and Eppie Irene Stonebraker Typer. He married Esther Cary and
they have one son and one daughter. He served on the staffs of sev-
eral colleges holding positions up to vice-presidency. He also served
with the YMCA on the National Council and was appointed to Gen.
Douglas McArthur's staff in Japan in 1947. He is presently president
of Doan College at Crete, Nebraska.
Page 46 Voice of the Prairie
HARRY TYPER— son of Mr. and Mrs. William Typer Sr., was born at
Nursery, Carroll County, Illinois, October 27, 1867. His parents moved
to the western part of Buffalo township when he was about a year
old. He attended rural schools and Dixon College, after which in
1895, he began reading law in Fred Zick's office. After three years
under Mr. Zick he was admitted to the bar. Mr. Typer served as town
clerk, alderman, city attorney and school board member. In 1906 he
married Katherine Lorenz and they had two sons. At his death
July 29, 1955, he was the oldest member of the bar in Ogle County.
HORATIO WALES I— was born Jan. 22, 1810 in Massachussets. He moved
to Buffalo Grove in 1836 and opened the second store in Buffalo
Grove. In 1837 he was elected the second sheriff of Ogle County.
He married Mary E. Williams in 1833 and had nine children. Mr.
Wales passed away in 1890.
HORATIO WALES III— was born Feb. 12, 1894 in Polo, son of Horatio and
Emma Spear Wales. He was educated in the Polo schools. He mar-
ried Merle Owens in 1920 and they have two sons. He is a chemist
for the Federal Government in Washington, D. C.
LAURA JOHNSON WOODLIFF— was born in Polo Feb. 21, 1920, daugh-
ter of Rev. Wm. R. and Ina Buswell Johnson. She married Colonel
Clifford L. Woodliff and they have one son. She has a Masters de-
gree in education and taught in the Far East including three years
in Japan. She is presently accompanying her husband in the middle-
FRED ZICK SR.— was born in Jo Daviess County Oct. 20, 1858, son of
Frederick and Mary Deuchman Zick. He first taught school and then
was admitted to the bar. He was states attorney two years in North
Dakota and in 1893 he returned to Polo and married Gertrude San-
born. He was city attorney for Polo. He left a record as a successful
criminal lawyer in the state of Washington. He is the father of Judge
Leon Zick and Judge Fred Zick.
JUDGE LEON A. ZICK— was born in 1895, son of Frederick and Gertrude
Sanborn Zick. He was educated in the Polo schools and graduated
from Northwestern Law School. He married Mildred C. Rowland
and they have two children. He is a veteran of World War I and was
elected first county commander of the American Legion in Ogle
County. He was first elected to the bench in 1925, the youngest judge
in Ogle County. He is Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and is
presently residing in Oregon, 111.
DR. RUDOLPH WILLIAM ZIEGLER— was born Feb. 17, 1917, son of
Rudolph and Irene McCaffern Ziegler. He married Barbara Mudge
and they have four sons. Dr. Ziegler came to Polo to practice medi-
cine in 1947. He is a fellow of the International College of Surgeons;
President of the Ogle County Medical Society; Member of the Uni-
ted States Committee World Medical Assoc; American Assoc, of
Railway Surgeons; Ambulatory Fracture Assoc; and Assoc of Mili-
tary Surgeons. He served in World War II in the 81st Infantry Div.
(Wildcat Rangers) 306 Medical Battalion. Dr. Ziegler is a Major in
the reserve unit.
JAMES EDWARD ZOLLINGER— was born in Polo April 8, 1891, son of
W. E. and Eunice M. Robbins Zollinger. He married Mary Turk and
they have two sons. He is a graduate in Electrical Engineering. Mr.
Zollinger received his early education in Polo. He is presently with
Westinghouse in Pittsburg.
Voice of the Prairie
ONE OF OUR FIRST HOTELS
The Orient House was built in 1855 by Pearson Shoemaker east of the
I. C. R.R. where the Parkside Hotel now stands.
Abraham Lincoln in Polo
Much interest has centered upon the visits of Abraham Lincoln to this
area, particularly to Buffalo Grove and Polo. Documented visits to these
two communities number only four and of these only one can justifiably
be described as a "visit."
But to give the documented facts of his presence in this immediate area
one must mention his military service.
It will be remembered that Lincoln, then only 23 years old, had been
elected captain of a company recruited to aid in fighting the Blackhawk
War in 1832. He served as captain only a brief period then was discharged.
He then enlisted as a private in the company of Captain lies at Dixon's
On June 8, 1832, Captain lies set off according to military orders issued
by Col. Zachary Taylor, later to become president, to follow Kellogg's
Trail to Galena "to examine the whole country for Indians and to collect
as much information about the enemy as possible . . . Camp is made 20
miles from Dixon's Ferry."
Kellogg's Trail traversed the prairie a few miles east of Polo, passed a
short distance west of Mt. Morris and then on northwesterly. So Lincoln's
Page 48 Voice of the Prairie
first experience did not touch Polo at all. On the return visit his Company
passed through Buffalo Grove.
Now some consideration must be given to Lincoln's only real visit
to Polo. This was in 1856 on the occasion of his public address at Oregon.
When Zenas Aplington learned of the plans for the big rally, a high-
light of the Fremont-Buchanan campaign, he extended a personal invita-
tion to Lincoln to be his house guest. Subsequent eventualities confirm the
statement that Lincoln accepted Aplington's invitation, came to Polo
where he was the latter s guest on the night before the joint debate with
Col. John Wentworth and again the night of August 16, 1856, the day on
which the debate was held.
After breakfast the first morning, Aplington and his guest walked
downtown past the Sanford House, crossed the street and climbed the stairs
to the law offices of John D. Campbell over the Bingaman and Schell meat
market which was on the lot now occupied by the central portion of the
Polo National Bank building.
There Aplington introduced Lincoln to Campbell who had already
heard of the Rail Splitter. Campbell and his law partner, J. W. Carpenter,
were invited to accompany them to Oregon.
The story of Campbell's association with Lincoln is told in his own
words which were printed in a little folder. A copy of this folder "Personal
Recollections of Abraham Lincoln," came into the possession of the late
James Nichols, former mayor of Polo, whose father's sister, Mary Nichols,
married Joshua Aplington, perhaps a brother, at least a relative, of Zenas
This folder Jim Nichols placed in his copy of the report of the unsuc-
cessful constitutional convention held in 1922, of which he was a member.
After the last of the Nichols family, Miss Olive Nichols, had passed away,
a sale of the household effects was held at the Olive Nichols home on West
Colden street. There the book with some others was put up for sale at auc-
tion. It was a few years before the little Campbell folder was discovered
nicely preserved between the leaves of the leather bound book. It revealed
a historical secret, secret at least to modern day Polo residents, that Lincoln
not only visited Polo but stayed two nights here.
The story had been going the rounds that this was the case but it
could not be documented. The Campbell folder proved the story true and
at the same time proved another untrue — that Lincoln stayed overnight
with Judge Campbell.
In 1856 Campbell was a young lawyer not yet elected county judge
and still a boarder at the Sanford House. Campbell's leaflet not only re-
veals the fact that Lincoln did stay overnight but it named his likely host,
who was none other than Zenas Aplington, and the further fact that Lin-
coln stayed two nights.
In browsing through sources of local history including that of the late
John W. Clinton, for 50 years a dedicated student of life and times in Polo,
reference was found that named Zenas Aplington as Lincoln's host both
nights the future President was a guest in a Polo home.
These facts were known to earlier generations in Polo but today no
one could be found who could document the Polo Lincoln story. The gen-
eration that knew these facts and others as well from the lips of those who
made early history is now gone. Only published accounts can be the source.
In his leaflet Judge Campbell, whose daughter Juanitta, was the wife of
the late Sam Hammer, reminisced as follows concerning his recollections
Voice of the Prairie Page 49
"I met Lincoln but a few times, yet under circumstances very favor-
able for forming an estimate of the goodness and greatness of the man, and
for forming an opinion which foreshadowed to my mind the wonderful
achievements wrought by him in the interest of our republic and of man-
kind during his presidential term. I first met Lincoln in the autumn of
1856 in Polo. The occasion was a political rally at Oregon before the pres-
idential election which occurred in November of that year. The candidate
for the presidency that year were John C. Fremont, nominated by the Re-
publican party, and James Buchanan nominated by the Democratic party.
The speakers advertised for the Oregon rally were John Wentworth of
Chicago and Abraham Lincoln of Springfield. I remember that on the
posters advertising the meeting, Wentworth's name was printed in letters
about four inches high and Lincoln's below that of Wentworth's in letters
only about two inches high.
"Mr. Lincoln came to Polo the night before the meeting and I think
was a guest of Zenas Aplington (a published story in John W. Clinton's
scrapbook of local history said that Lincoln stayed both nights at the Zenas
"The next morning Mr. Aplington introduced me to Lincoln in my
law office and invited me and my law partner, J. W. Carpenter, to ac-
company Mr. Lincoln and himself to Oregon. We accepted the invitation,
and we four rode over in a carriage, arriving there at noon. The political
meeting was held at or near the fair grounds at about 2 o'clock in the af-
ternoon. An immense crowd of people was in attendance. Mr. Wentworth
made the opening address, which was a very able effort, perhaps an hour
long. At the close of his address a large proportion of the audience arose
and started to go away. The chairman of the meeting called to them to re-
main and hear the address of Abraham Lincoln. They paused and remain-
ed standing while Mr. Lincoln arose to begin his address. The appearance
of the speaker in his ill-fitting dress and his generally awkward manner
provoked the mirth of the audience to such an extent that the laughter was
audible, but when he had fairly begun the people standing moved forward
and sat down to listen — reminding me of the congregation in Goldsmith's
"Deserted Village," "who came to scoff but remained to pray."
"When Mr. Lincoln had finished his address it was the general opinion
of those present that his speech far surpassed Mr. Wentworth's in logic,
power and eloquence. Quite late in the afternoon, the same quartet that
went in Mr. Aplington's carriage returned to Polo, where Mr. Lincoln again
stayed all night. I was then boarding at the Sanford House and sat by the
side of Mr. Lincoln at the breakfast table next morning and afterwards sat
talking with him on the Mason street front of the Sanford House for an
hour or more. Later in the day Mr. Lincoln came up into our office, which
was located in the rooms over Bingaman & Schell's meat market, and af-
ter visiting a while, said that he "would take a little walk" to stretch his
legs. I offered to walk with him, and we went up Division street as far
as the summit, about where the water tower now stands and then returned
to the Sanford House.
"In our ride to Oregon and back Mr. Lincoln was very talkative and
told many stories so quaint and funny that we almost exploded with laugh-
ter; in the meantime he scarcely ever smiled. His stories were always made
to point a moral or adorn a tale. I remember well his facial expressions
at all times when I was with him; they were always sad and thoughtful, and
his deep-set eyes had a far-away look. The next and only other time that
I saw Mr. Lincoln was at the joint debate between himself and Senator
Page 50 Voice of the Prairie
Douglas at Freeport in the fall of 1858, which was the most famous of all
the joint debates between those intellectual giants."
Now that it has been reaffirmed that Lincoln spent two nights in Polo
the question naturally arises, "where did Zenas Aplington, his host, live
in 1856? Has the "Lincoln House" been destroyed and removed? Is it still
Many believe that Lincoln was a guest in the house now owned and
occupied by Mr. and Mrs. John Paap, 125 North Franklin Street.
Records state that Zenas Aplington about 1849 moved one of his frame
houses from Buffalo Grove to his farm on the prairie northeast of the
town. Later, when the town was platted Mr. Aplington's home stood on lot
1, block 21, at the corner of North Franklin and Locust Streets. Lot 1 in
1856 was the very last lot on North Franklin lying parallel to Locust street
But Lot 1 today is not in that exact location. Some time after 1872 the
City replatted in that particular area with the result that Lot 1, Block 21,
is now occupied by the Town Hall, the north side of that structure. Do not
let this legal description confuse you for historical records, including the
abstract in possession of Mr. and Mrs. John "Jack" Paap, show Lot 1, Block
21, as being situated in the actual corner of North Franklin and Locust
Streets. That is the exact location to which Zenas Aplington moved his
house about 1849. It is where all records state he lived and made his home.
One reference is made to it as Mr. Aplington's "cheerful home," which
gives an insight into his philosophy of life.
Where Stenmark and Fouke now have their new building, there was
for many years a vacant lot owned by W. T. Schell. When the new build-
ing was under construction, workmen found remains of an old foundation
that had belonged to the YJVLC.A. building there in earlier days. Records
show it was a frame building where the Y.M.C.A. had a great deal of
gymnasium equipment. Also public dinners were served there. The Keck-
ler building is the only original building left in that bx^ck. It changed
hands many times during its 100 years. The first date on the abstract is
1854. This building must have been built prior to 1855 as it is reportedly
the first post office in Polo.
Soon after moving to Polo in 1856, Chanceford R. Barber built a brick
residence on the northwest corner of Mason and Barber streets. In 1898,
Bryant Barber, a son, moved this brick house by horses northwest across
the block where the stable yards were located, to the place it now occu-
pies. This home is now the property of the Rev. Wm. Johnsons, 502 W. Loc-
ust. Bryant Barber then built the Raley house at 103 N. Barber Avenue.
In July of 1931 a jawbone was found in the "clemmer" at the dam in
Dixon in Rock River. Many theorized it was the jawbone of the much dis-
cussed Bryant Barber who had alledgedly jumped in the river at Grand
Detour in 1917.
The first hotel in Polo was a story and a half house located on the east
side of Franklin street, north of the alley behind the present Gamble Store.
It was built in 1853-54 by Aranda Kellogg. About the same time John Jay
built a "public" house on the southeast corner of Franklin and Dixon
streets across from the present location of St. Mary's Church.
Voice of the Prairie
OUR FURNITURE STORE
WOOL, H I S E>
This building was built by Woolhiser in 1855 and has been a General
Merchandise and Furniture store during its lifetime.
On Monday night, February 13, 1865, "the great conflagration of Polo"
occurred. The fire broke out in a saloon kept by George Reynolds on the
north side of Mason Street, east of Franklin Street. Fourteen business
houses and one residence were destroyed, comprising one quarter of the
business section of town. The editor of the Polo Press in closing the account
of the fire, wrote "Now let us pocket our loss and gain wisdom from the
bought experience. Let no more such wooden rows be built, but see to it
that stone or brick buildings take the place of this defunct range of shan-
ties." This fire had the effect to abolish saloons in Polo and for fifty years
Polo was "dry".
John P. Miller, a carriage maker, operated for many years in the build-
ing now occupied by the Ford Garage. He lived in the house across the
street, now occupied by Miss Delia Miller. The carriage sheds were built
first in the 1860's and the house soon after their completion.
The building now occupied by Wikoff Appliances was built about
1900. Old pictures show the window full of dry goods. Ted Thomas set up
his first dentist office on the second floor in 1902. This building too had
been occupied by a music store, a millinery store, a dry goods store and
later several restaurants.
Page 52 Voice of the Prairie
The Polo Fire Department
In 1890 the Polo Hook and Ladder Team was represented at the State
Volunteer Fireman's Tournament at Mendota. On the first day they secured
second prize for fine appearance on parade. In the 100 yard foot race, H.
Scott won second money. Lonergan took second place in the ladder climb-
ing contest. On Wednesday, Polo won first in the free for all hook and lad-
der race of 200 yards in 32 V2 seconds. Polo boys added to their laurels by
winning the State Championship Hook and Ladder Race. Prizes won by the
Polo team amounted to $300. The men returned home and were met at
the depot by the band and a large number of admiring friends. After an
address by Judge J. D. Campbell they were escorted by the band to the
engine house. W. E. Barkman. foreman of the L. F. Thomas Hook and Lad-
der Company, assisted by his sisters, gave his men a reception at his fath-
er's home in North Polo. This Hook and Ladder team received the State
Champion Trumpet. For the next several years these Polo companies won
the State Championship.
The Polo Fire Protection District was voted into being in 1948. The first
trustees appointed were Frank Wilson, M. E. Schryver Jr., and Howard
Webster. Being a new municipality the trustees did not have any money
to work with until at least one year had passed. The city of Polo agreed
to run the fire department until tax money came to the district. At that
time the city agreed to sell to the District the two fire trucks that they were
using for the sum of $1.00. The District is financed by a tax on the real and
personal property within the District. There is a maximum tax set by law
that can be levied by the Trustees.
The first piece of equipment purchased by the Fire District was a
tank truck for use at rural fires. This was one of the first tankers used by
any fire department in the state. Now most rural fire departments have
such equipment. This tanker was delivered late in 1948. Soon after a new
fire truck was ordered and delivered some time in 1949, to replace the an-
tiquated equipment then owned by the District. The next piece of equip-
ment delivered to the District was another fire truck in 1954, which gave
the District one of the best equipped small departments in the State of
In 1950, the district dedicated a new fire station to house their
equipment. The station owned by the City was too small and inadequate.
A new tower for the big warning siren was erected and the antenna for
the District's radio was placed on top of this tower. This gives the firemen
good coverage with their two-way radio.
In 1956 the trustees purchased a station wagon to carry the depart-
ment's first-aid equipment. Polo can be proud of one of the best Volun-
teer Fire Departments in the state due to the efforts of the trustees in ac-
quiring the equipment and building the fire station. It is interesting to
note that all the cost of equipment and building was paid for in a period
of three years. To date, the District is operating in the black.
In 1869 the township passed a vote to appropriate $5,000 for 80 acres
and buildings for a "poor farm." They finally settled for 60 acres and the
buildings southwest of the Methodist church and made a down payment
of $700 to a man named Perkins. Within the year, and before any real work
had been done, Perkins ordered them off the property and the $700 pay-
ment was refunded.
Voice of the Prairie
HOME OF POLO'S FIRST TEACHER
illillBi 1 '*^^
This house was built approximately 1860 by M. F. Bassett, father of Lucy
The first township meeting was held February, 1850, and the first sup-
ervisor was Zenas Aplington elected with 153 votes.
The office building on Mason Street, built in 1856 by Lawyer John D.
Campbell, and after 1873 occupied by Col. Morton Swift, was moved to 809
North Division Street in 1901, and is presently the residence of Sam Laz-
When the automobile came, other things had to move out. The livery
barns with their coterie of horses slowly decreased. The buggies and car-
riages and the steel tired wagons were driven from the streets. The stables
on the alleys with the throwout piles from the stables disappeared; along
with this, the breeding places for the flies disappeared. Less than a dozen
of the old stables on the alleys remain as a remembrance of the past. The
harness shops also went with their friends the horse. So - the autos drove
the flies from town.
Recently Dr. L. R. McDaniel found a receipt in his attic, probably left
over from a period when the house was owned by Henry Barber, for 20
gallons of whiskey, cost $4.
Page 54 Voice of the Prairie
There were six shoemaker's shops in those early days. Hen Wolf, John
Spicer, Jacob Shaffer, J. J. Thompson and Burbank and Adams. All had
extra men working for them.
Street lights were passed and approved the 2nd day of December in
Lights were put in the present City Hall in 1894.
There was reportedly a potato chip factory in the north end of town,
east of the highway about 80 years ago.
In looking over old. photographs we found the names of these photo-
graphy studios that had operated in Polo: McHenry, C. H. Hall, Davison,
and Chase. There was also one Pellington operating in Forreston and Polo.
After the "Great Fire" M. F. Funk built the two-story brick building
now occupied by the Miller Market. One of the upper rooms was used as
the City Hall until the present City Hall was built in 1877. The other up-
stairs hall was used by various societies for meetings.
The C. B. and Q. railroad began work on the second section of line ex-
tending from Oregon westerly to Savanna on March 2, 1886. The line was
completed and opened for traffic July 29, 1886.
The old wind mill - a round stone tower about 36 feet in diameter and
50 feet high which stood where the stand pipe is today, was not a success
as there was seldom enough wind to run it. Andrew Hitt bought it in 1861
and used the stone to build the store where Muench Shoe Store is today.
The Monehan Restaurant that had been moved from Buffalo Grove in
1853 and stood where the bank presently stands, was moved in 1902 to 309
South Franklin Street and is now the residence of Berl Wagner.
We would like to add at this point that due to civic efforts our fire de-
partment also boasts a portable iron lung; a respirator; and through the
help of the firemen, gas masks, hospital beds, wheel chairs, crutches, and
other items available to the public of Polo.
After the death of Bryant Barber, his home was purchased by Martin
E. Schryver, Sr., who lived with his family in this house until November
of 1942 when it was sold to Luther E. Raley.
In early history the band-stand over the "town pump" was the helper
in Halloween pranks played by the youth of town. The boys would gather
up all the buggies on the street in town and hang them on the band-stand.
The Polo Cemetery Association was formed April 21, 1887. The ceme-
tery was described as "eight acres of beautifully sloping prairie just out-
side the northern limits of the city, are well enclosed, and beautified by
shrubbery, elegant monuments and enclosures of smaller divisions."
The Polo Harvester Company was organized in 1874 and manufactured
the "Porter Harvester." The shop and warehouse were located on Dixon
street just north of the depot, now occupied by Darrow Bldgs. Inc.
Voice of the Prairie Page 55
The town of Polo put in the sewage system in 1906 at the cost of $28,-
The first doctors in the city of Polo were Dr. Wm. W. Burns, who built
the large brick house on Barber Street that still stands though unoccupied,
and Dr. Robert Fisher.
Sol Londenslager had a washing machine factory and planing mill
back of the present Kroger Store.
Horatio Wales Sr., grandfather of Mrs. Arthur Swanson and Frank
Wales, came to Buffalo Grove in 1836. In the fall he opened a store in the
village. He served one term as county sheriff. As there was no jail the sher-
iff had to sleep handcuffed to the prisoner.
The home occupied by Patrick Fegan Post, American Legion, pur-
chased by them March 1, 1945, was built in the 1880's by Thomas Allen.
The brick house now occupied by Evangeline Donaldson, 404 W. Locust,
was built in 1868 by John L. Spear, who for many years operated a drug
store in the location now occupied by the A&P store.
Milton Trumbauer built the home now occupied by the Lester Weav-
ers, at 110 N. Thomas, in 1899. This spot had formerly been occupied by
the stables of Chanceford Barber.
The home of Dr. L. R. McDaniel, 410 W. Mason, was built by Henrji
Barber, in 1890 or 1891. Henry Barber was a brother of Bryant Barber and
a son of Chanceford Barber.
The McGrath residence, 403 West Mason Street, was built in 1896. Car-
penters received $1.50 for ten hours work. The foreman received $2.00 for
the same amount of work.
In 1858 Rev. Todd built the brick residence at Dixon and Congress
streets now ocupied by Alvis Buck. Some of the brick for this home were
brought from Mt. Morris. Later, brick were burned at the location of the
present high school athletic field.
Actually in March of 1853, the town of Polo was laid out by Charles
Joiner, County surveyor, who lived three miles east of town. He was as-
sisted by Cyrus Torrey and John Nyman who were chain carriers. Mr.
Joiner obtained the present Joiner farm about 1837.
In 1920 Brackens Dry Goods and Ready-to-Wear moved from across
the street where the Ben Franklin store now stands, to the new Masonic
building and the pool hall was moved into the basement with entrance to
the west, where Nordgren now has a Photo Studio.
The feed store was torn down first so as to give James time to find
another place for his pool hall and Schell time to find a place for his mon-
uments. The monuments were moved to the back of what is now the Keck-
ler building. Some of the monuments were stored on the vacant lot across
the alley now occupied by Stenmarks Jewelry Store and Foukes Barber
Page 56 Voice of the Prairie
The last building in this block was the electric light plant where elec-
tricity was made. It was run by a man named Linder, later a Milt Snyder.
When the old tin building burned down it was replaced by the fine brick
one, now owned by the Illinois Utility Company.
The other side of the railroad track was first occupied by the Minnesota
Lumber Company. In 1890 McGrath and Atley bought out the Minnesota
Lumber Co. In 1906 they bought the coal business of S. K. Yeakel and add-
ed that to their lumber yard.
In 1871, the Tri-County carried an ad by G. M. Hunt and Rufus Perkins
for their lumber yards located east of the railroad. Yards were where
Doug White and Elsie Shrader houses are at present, 101 and 103 South
In 1853 Zenas Aplington built a brick store building on the corner of
Franklin and Mason streets now occupied by the Gamble Store. Before it
was finished he moved his stock of merchandise into the basement and op-
ened the store for business in the spring of 1854.
Of the brick for these early buildings in Polo, some came from Mt.
Morris, some from Freemont on Elkhorn Creek, and were brought in by
train. The brick for the Elkhorn Church (long known as "Brick Church")
were burned at Freemont and "treaded" by oxen. The brick for the Pres-
byterian Church, built in 1855, 1856, and 1857, and dedicated August 7,
1857, were hauled from Savanna, Illinois. Before 1860, a brick yard and kiln
were established at the spot now occupied by the City Disposal Plant.
Brick were also burned in 1880 by George French on East Dixon where Or-
ville French now resides.
In 1878 a diphtheria epidemic took the lives of more than twenty peo-
ple, mostly children.
In 1874 and 1875, Orris Mosher occupied the law office next to the alley
on Franklin Street north of the present Gamble Store. He was Justice of
the peace for many years.
Before 1857 the city dug a well in the center of the Mason and Frank-
lin street crossings. This was called "The Town Pump." The well was
furnished with a pump and a watering trough for horses. Some time later
a bandstand was erected over the well. About 1890 or 1891, Mason Street
and two blocks of Franklin Street and several blocks of Division Street
were paved with stone. Some thought the bandstand was an eye-sore and
ought to be removed. One night Col. Morton Swift, followed by a group of
men, sawed off the posts and threw the bandstand down. The crash scared
and awakened the late George Strickler who was sleeping in the livery
barn office nearby.
About 50 years ago, Billy Sunday preached in the old Y. M. C. A. build-
ing. Belle Wendle played the piano for the meeting but she didn't hear
him preach because she and her sister had to leave as it was a "men only"
In 1858 the east part of the Hough Hardware building was built by
Lemuel Barber. The rear part was added later.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA
3 0112 050744132